The Brookhaven Town Board recently authorized a resolution appropriating approximately $1.24 million for aquatic habitat restoration in the town. John Turner, director of Brookhaven Town's Department of Environmental Protection, said funding for the project will come from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.
"This will address a number of things relative to maintaining and restoring the Carmans and Swan rivers, where, for each, there will be aquatic species inventory and control work that will be done," Turner explained.
Stormwater runoff is a big piece of work that will be done in the two locations. "In conducting stormwater runoff control for both rivers, we will conduct an inventory of points of where road runoff is occurring and will undertake specific projects to catch [the runoff]," Turner said.
Catch basins designed to funnel stormwater runoff and other environmental pollutants into the ground rather than into the rivers would be sited at various locations. Two such sites, Turner noted, include the portion of the Carmans River that fronts Main Street in Yaphank, and the location where the Carmans River flows along East Bartlett Road in Middle Island. Locations of road and stormwater runoff for the Swan River in East Patchogue are in the process of being identified.
Another issue that Turner said the funding will address is how to eradicate the cabomba and milfoil weeds that have become a growing problem in Long Island's waterways. "We will be doing aquatic species inventory work, but there has been no decision on just how we will eradicate the aquatic invasive [plants]," Turner said.
These two forms of aquatic invasive plants were likely introduced into the region by people who dumped spoils from their freshwater aquariums and fish tanks into lakes, rivers and streams, according to Turner. "These plants could have spread in any number of ways," he said, including boats that break up the plants as they move across the rivers, and by birds who feed on the weeds and drop seeds at other locations over the lakes and rivers.
Because the invasive aquatic plants have filtered into various waterways, the problem is not confined to one geographic area. As far as any future funding for aquatic habitat restoration at other waterways throughout the town, Turner said the town council will have to consider any such appropriations.
Brookhaven Town First District Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld said the North Shore has its share of issues with aquatic invasive species, and he will be working with state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket) to try to secure state funding or to assist with available grants.
"This grant is just a start, because we have all sorts of invasive species problems all over the North Shore, as does the rest of the town," Fiore-Rosenfeld explained. The councilman cited a growing problem, particularly at Flax Pond in the Crane Neck area of Old Field Village, as well as in waters flowing from East Setauket into the village of Poquott.
Furthermore, Fiore-Rosenfeld reported that a component of the restoration master plan for West Meadow Beach involves addressing invasive species that he says have crept into area waterways.
Meanwhile on the South Shore, Robert Kessler, co-founder of the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes, said he is hoping that any studies and reclamation of invasive aquatic growth will "hopefully clean up the entire" river. "There are lots of options for the invasive aquatic species in the [upper and lower] lakes [that flow into the Carmans River], but there is only one option for the runoff into the lakes, and that is to install drywells or catch basins that will bring the water into the ground rather than into the river," he said.