Earth-moving began this month on a long-delayed project to do something about persistent water pollution at Havens Beach, the Village of Sag Harbor’s sole bathing beach. This is good news — sort of. Unfortunately, it appears that after more than 25 years of unfulfilled promises and false starts, the work is not likely to be completed in time for the beginning of the swimming season.
Officials have been aware of water-quality problems at Havens Beach, and the nearby creek that drains into it rainwater and runoff from a wide watershed of houses, roads, and businesses. Traces of human and animal waste have been detected there over the years, though until recently the village failed to alert the public to the potential health risk. For example, it would send its lifeguards home for the day during County Health Department-mandated closures, but post no signs or give other warnings.
With bulldozers beginning site preparation on a $374,000 effort, the hope is that an artificial wetland and filtration sponges will stem the contamination. One concern is that the village chose a low-ball bid from a contractor who has been linked to several questionable coastal projects and received a record fine from the State Department of Environmental Conservation for improper dredging in Montauk.
Though residents should be happy that the project has begun, close attention should be paid as the work moves along. Equally important will be a commitment of money and attention to make sure the wetland and filters are maintained and remain effective over the long term.