Water Quality

Water is the lifeblood of Montauk. It defines who we are as a community. In fact, Montauk has 23 bodies of water – some of which are threatened. Working together, we are reversing the damage and cleaning up Montauk’s water.

Save MONtAUK’S WATERS

To increase the understanding of the water quality issues in Montauk’s local waters and the steps that can be taken now to address them, CCOM is launching a comprehensive public awareness campaign.

Our scientific testing of the waters in Montauk’s lakes, ponds and beaches and leadership on the remediation steps that have already begun in Fort Pond and Lake Montauk will provide the background to a series of public events over the next 2 months that will encourage greater public awareness and involvement in this important work. Stay tuned for upcoming events to participate in.

Please CLICK HERE to learn more about this campaign and what you can do to Save Montauk’s Waters.

Join CCOM in our efforts to bring about change. Sign the petition and demand we hold ourselves accountable for taking action to SAVE MONTAUK’S WATERS!

Sign the Petition!

Septic Upgrade

Elevated nitrogen levels from outdated and ineffective septic systems have led to nitrogen loadings and a proliferation of harmful algal blooms in our waters in recent years. CCOM led the successful effort to expand the Community Preservation Fund to support water quality improvement projects, including septic upgrades. As a result, home and business owners are now able to apply for a East Hampton Town funds to convert to low-nitrogen systems. Additionally, many residents are also eligible for the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Grant Program.

Learn More

FLOATING WETLANDS INSTALL | FORT POND

Floating wetlands technology is an innovative solution engineered to enhance the natural process that occurs between water, plants, and microorganisms to remove excess nutrients and contaminants from impaired waterbodies in a passive and natural way.

The Fort Pond Floating Wetlands pilot remediation project uses 7,200 native plants specifically chosen for their ability to thrive in Fort Pond’s environment. The plants are secured in special perforated containers that fit into custom mats designed by family-owned, Florida-based company Beemats Floating Wetlands. As the plants mature, their roots will uptake excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the pond as food. The goal is to reduce the nutrient load in the pond to lessen the extent and severity of the harmful algal blooms (HABs) which have plagued Fort Pond for years.

These floating wetlands are seasonal and reusable. At the end of the growing season, when the plants reach full maturity, the mats will be removed from the pond and the nutrient-rich plant material will be donated to local community gardens for composting.

This remediation project was made possible by a grant from the East Hampton Town Community Preservation Fund Water Quality Improvement Program.

CLICK HERE to see more photos!

WATER TESTING PROGRAMS

Over the past several years we have introduced and sustained multiple scientifically based water quality testing initiatives not just in Montauk, but throughout East Hampton Town. Our ongoing water testing is critical to water quality improvement efforts; it provides the data needed to assess current conditions, and to monitor and track the impacts and effectiveness of new projects.

ENTEROCOCCUS BACTERIATown Water Testing

Enterococcus is a bacteria that exists in the guts of warm-blooded animals (birds, humans, and other mammals). Out of concern for declining water quality, CCOM joined Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide Blue Water Task Force in 2013 to start testing enterococcus bacteria levels in Montauk’s waters. Since then, CCOM staff and volunteers have expanded the program and now work year-round collecting water samples in Montauk, Amagansett and East Hampton, and perform bacterial analysis right in our office lab. On average, during the summer months we process 30 water samples per week! Sharing our data with the Blue Water Task Force ensures broader outreach and greater environmental and public health.

HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM (HAB)

In May 2018 CCOM partnered with the Gobler Laboratory at Stony Brook Southampton on an intense harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring program in Fort Pond, Montauk. While most algae are harmless and often play an integral part in any aquatic ecosystem, some, like the blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals. Such blooms have been detected in Fort Pond every summer since 2015, with 2016 being the only exception.

Previously, testing for HABs in Fort Pond had been sporadic and infrequent, with only a handful of samples taken. Now, every year beginning in early May, weekly samples are taken by CCOM and analyzed by the Gobler Lab, continuing through October. Results are posted to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s HAB Notifications website and are analyzed by NYS and Suffolk County health departments for issuing health or swimming advisories. Weekly testing creates a dataset that will serve as the foundation for establishing the extent of the problem – a first step toward devising an effective solution.

View current and past data

MICROBIAL SOURCE TRACKING

CCOM partnered with the nation’s premiere scientific agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to restore water quality in Lake Montauk. The USGS uses advanced scientific analysis to track the sources and significance of pollutants – including nitrogen – entering Lake Montauk. Known as “microbial source tracking,” this crucial data will help us implement effective programs supported by advanced scientific analysis that will have measurable improvements in Montauk’s ground and surface waters.

We are able to fund this significant new program because of the remarkable generosity of donors who have supported our Clean Water Challenge, including CCOM Sustainer Circle Members, whose three-year financial commitments help make this program possible. We are also deeply grateful to the Town of East Hampton, which approved significant funding for this initiative.

Donate and support this vital project