On Red Alert for Rust Tide

    The quality of the Town of East Hampton’s waterways, which are managed by the town trustees, is good, Stephanie Forsberg, a trustee, reported to her colleagues at the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

    “It’s been a relatively quiet summer for us,” Ms. Forsberg said in delivering an aquaculture report. On Monday, she said, she had received a report of cochlodinium, also known as red tide or rust tide, in Southampton, but at “slightly lower densities than they’ve seen in the past. We’re hopeful that cooler temperatures may be helping us and we won’t see it in the coming weeks.”

    The trustees will be paying close attention to Three Mile Harbor, and all waterways, from now through the end of September, Ms. Forsberg said. “We encourage any of the public, if they see these rust tides — they look like red streaks running through water — to notify our office as soon as possible. We have a team ready to act that day to take increased sampling and monitoring. But the good news is, we don’t have it right now.”

    Every sample taken in Georgica Pond, Ms. Forsberg said, “has come back crystal clear.” Last September, she said, a dog died after apparently drinking water containing a toxin, which “could have come from a small pond adjacent to where Georgica Pond is.”

    She said that she has asked Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University, an expert on algal blooms, to present all his data this winter. Ms. Forsberg, who earned a doctoral degree in marine biology from Stony Brook last year, had announced in March that the trustees would fund a comprehensive monitoring of the waters the body oversees, in cooperation with the university. She had worked in Dr. Gobler’s laboratory as part of her studies.

Pumpout Duty

    Prior to its formal meeting, the trustees met, interviewed, and hired Michael Bye, who will become a third pumpout boat operator. Mr. Bye, a bayman, is the son of Sidney Bye, who is also a pumpout boat operator for the trustees.

    “He knows boats, knows the waters, and is more than willing, without having a set schedule or definite annual salary, to work on an as-needed basis,” Diane McNally, the trustees’ clerk, told The Star yesterday.

    Ms. McNally said that the trustees are working with the State Department of Environmental Conservation to “try to get a town employee to their office to be instructed in the process of collecting water samples so we can augment what it has been doing.” Mr. Bye, she said, will assist in testing done specifically for shellfish beds to determine if there is a need to open or close any such beds. “We’re trying to assist the other agencies,” she said. Mr. Bye will be paid $14.50 per hour.

    Ms. McNally also told the board that she had received information from Drew Bennett, a consulting engineer who works on behalf of the Village of East Hampton, and spoke with Scott Fithian, the village’s superintendent of public works, about the Hook Pond outfall pipe, which has become clogged and needs to be cleared. “They had machinery mobilized for last Friday,” Ms. McNally told the trustees. “When I said, ‘You can’t do that without trustee permission,’ they said, ‘No problem.’ ”

    Village officials agreed to postpone the work pending the trustees’ approval. The exchange, Ms. McNally said, “was an exercise in government working well together. They are ready to go, and are looking for our permission to do so. I make a motion that we allow East Hampton Village to clear the outflow pipe.” The motion was unanimously passed.


    Toward the conclusion of a meeting with a relatively light agenda, Joe Bloecker, a trustee, reminded his colleagues that “storm season is coming up.” He urged the board to clear its agenda to the greatest extent possible in its next few meetings so that, in the event of extreme weather, “we’ll have the time that we really need to concentrate on it. There’s not much here that can’t be done in a couple weeks. That way, if we do have a real issue coming up, we can deal with it.”

    In fact, an item on Tuesday’s agenda illustrated Mr. Bloecker’s point. In response to Hurricane Sandy, the D.E.C. issued an emergency authorization for stabilization, cleanup, and restoration work last winter. The permit specifically authorized installation of sandbags “at the toe of damaged structures or eroded escarpments.” Nine months later, a homeowner on Napeague had not removed all sandbags from the beach.

    “Boy, did it kill us,” Mr. Bloecker said of the permit. “We’re still trying to catch up to it.”