On the Beach and in the Lake

The East Hampton Town Board will form three committees to grapple with erosion in the downtown Montauk beach area, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc told the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee Monday night.

One committee will deal with the Army Corps of Engineers, the second will work on creating a tax district to fund beach-restoration projects, and the third will help devise a post-storm recovery plan.

“If we have a catastrophic storm, we’ll have a plan and make ourselves more resilient,” he said.

 There is still no timeline for dune stabilization project that the Army Corps has promised, the councilman said, adding that variances, some significant, must be obtained from property owners near where the sand-filled geotextile bags will be placed. In some cases, the variance would be needed for work on just a sliver of land, but in others it could be more, he said.

The town continues to press the Army Corps “for how much we can get from them and we’re going to keep pressing them,” he said, later adding that the town is also pressing the Corps to extend a sand-replenishment project to the Ditch Plain beach.

Once the sand is delivered, residents can expect at least 1,600 truckloads crossing the Montauk Highway to the downtown beach area, Councilman Van Scoyoc said.

He also discussed the Lake Montauk Watershed Management Plan, a study that started in 2008 to identify and address pollution in Lake Montauk. The report is just a draft and full of redundancies, he said. However, he detailed the most significant sources of pollution in the lake, one of which is boaters dumping human waste in the lake, which is prohibited by law but occurs nonetheless. Robbie Rosen, a licensed boat captain who also lives near the lake and visited the meeting as a guest, said he has seen and smelled boaters dumping their waste into the lake.

The Lake Montauk watershed encompasses areas from Ditch Plain in the east all the way to downtown Montauk, explained Julie Brunn, a committee member who has worked with the town on the study. Motels, clubs, and marinas were found to have the most problematic of the septic systems in the watershed, she said.

Other pollutants come from stormwater runoff, geese and other animal droppings, pesticides, poor drainage systems, and tick-control measures. The study notes that the town has the opportunity to work with Suffolk County to address concerns regarding pesticide input into the lake and the best management practices to minimize pesticide impact in cases of tick-control spraying.

The report suggests establishing attractive and eye-catching signs announcing the entrance to the Lake Montauk Watershed in highly visible areas to help increase awareness, something the advisory committee has been suggesting for years. Members said and the report concludes that the worst area of pollution is the south end of the lake, a public beach where many families and children go to swim. Ms. Brunn said the beach at South Lake tested high for fecal matter. She also said that commercial septic systems are supposed to be inspected every three years, but that this rule is barely enforced.

 A sign posted at South Lake Beach says swimming is prohibited because there is no lifeguard on duty. But members said no one should swim there because of pollution, and that the town should quickly post a sign, as the swimming season has started. The report will soon be made public on the town’s website and public input will be sought.