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 the Lake – Save the Pond

The natural systems that filter and clean Lake Montauk and Fort Pond are overwhelmed. New York State has designated Lake Montauk as an imperiled water body, resulting in the closure of once-thriving shellfish beds and the shuttering of the public beach at South Lake. Fort Pond is similarly unsafe for swimming for much of the summer season.

What does it take to clean up Montauk’s polluted waters? You! Save the Lake – Save the Pond is a comprehensive, community-based program designed to specifically reduce or eliminate nitrogen, the most serious threat to Montauk’s water, and improve water quality in Lake Montauk and Fort Pond.

The time for action is now. Working together with private and commercial property owners and local government, Montauk can restore its water quality. The approach outlined in Save the Lake – Save the Pond is making a difference.

Regardless of where you live, it’s only a matter of time before pollution from your property enters the waters around us. We outline simple actions you can take to be a Clean Water Steward. These actions save money over time, increase property value, reduce public health risks and clean the water. It’s a win-win!

With your help we can restore our water bodies. SIGN the Pledge to be a Clean Water Steward.

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Water Testing

In 2013 CCOM joined Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide Blue Water Task Force to test Enterococcus bacteria levels in Montauk’s waters. Since then, CCOM staff and volunteers have worked year-round collecting water samples throughout East Hampton Town and performing bacterial analysis right in our office lab. On average, during the summer months we process 30 water samples per week!

The results are clear: Montauk’s water quality is getting worse, but it’s not too late – we can continue to work together to clean up our water!

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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

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, homeowners are now able to apply for an East Hampton Town Rebate to convert to low-nitrogen systems. Additionally, many residents are also eligible for the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Grant Program.