Montauk wastewater plan

Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM) has been a tireless advocate for the preservation of Montauk’s environment and open space. In addition to our land preservation work, we have fought for water quality protections and comprehensive wastewater solutions for the Montauk community for many years. It is absolutely critical that we collectively address the wastewater crisis in Montauk. Nutrient-rich wastewater can exacerbate harmful algal blooms, pollute drinking water, and negatively impact shellfish, fish, and wildlife populations.

However, the recent Montauk Community Wastewater Proposal as presented by East Hampton Town, is lacking in the following ways and these items must be addressed:

1. Project Scope: The rationale for the size of this centralized proposal and the alternate options including de-centralized and cluster systems must be better described. Without this essential information, our community can’t consider whether the merits of this project outweigh the harms and whether this is the only solution to the problem.

2. Funding: Much more is needed to understand the short and long-term financial impacts to both residential and commercial property owners; this must include a cost-benefit analysis.

3. Development Concerns: There’s an urgent concern in our community that this project will facilitate greater density and permit more development. A comprehensive understanding of the impact on potential growth, development, and redevelopment is lacking and must be addressed in coordination with the community’s implementation of the Montauk Hamlet Plan and Coastal Assessment Resiliency Plan.

4. Sewage Treatment Plant Siting: The current proposal identifies Suffolk County parkland as a potential sewage treatment plant site. As an organization established to preserve open space, CCOM is in principle opposed to the alienation of parkland. The bar is very high for CCOM to consider alienation to ever be appropriate–it must result in a demonstrable and viable environmental benefit, and it must address environmental harm that cannot be mediated in any other way, a standard that has not yet been met. It is incumbent upon the Town to commence a full SEQRA review so that alternatives to the STP proposal can be reviewed, and to do so in a timely, and non-segmented manner.

CCOM is committed to helping create a comprehensive wastewater plan for Montauk and stands willing to work with the Town and other community partners who have expressed concerns to continue to assess options and proposals through detailed analysis to ensure we develop the best wastewater plan for Montauk.

Advancing Collaborative Solutions for Wastewater Management in Montauk

CCOM commissioned Dr. Christopher Gobler, Director of the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University, to consider the potential impacts of the proposed sewering plan for Montauk. Dr. Gobler’s work was limited to an analysis of existing data; his report findings—available upon request—conclude that the proposed plan would not improve water quality in Fort Pond or Lake Montauk as it would not remediate wastewater flows in to Fort Pond from the eastern and western subwatersheds of Fort Pond, and additionally that in Lake Montauk, onsite wastewater is not a major source of pollution. The Gobler report advances questions raised in CCOM’s Wastewater Position Paper, which outlines four areas in which the proposed plan is insufficient: defining the project scope, funding, addressing development concerns, and siting. Given that the report indicates that the plan would not significantly improve Montauk’s most impaired water body, Fort Pond, CCOM sees the need to focus on expediting existing solutions like septic and stormwater upgrades in this area.


In keeping with CCOM’s focus on environmental sustainability and its strong legacy of serving as Montauk’s environmental guardian, CCOM is extremely concerned about the potential redevelopment of several commercial properties on East Lake Drive and their collective impact on the community and adjacent waterbodies of Big Reed Pond and Lake Montauk.

As an area that includes both residential and commercial use, we must ensure that any redevelopment of these sites must be done in an environmentally sustainable manner. As such, CCOM is demanding that East Hampton Town look not only at the proposed changes on each respective individual parcel, but rather scrutinize the collective, compounded changes and their effects on this most fragile area, including the potential for increased vehicular traffic on an already dangerous road. There MUST be a comprehensive environmental review of any proposed redevelopment of commercial properties, including those impacts resulting from anticipated operational changes at the East Hampton, and subsequently the Montauk airport, along East Lake Drive.

CCOM Position Statement on the Environmental Impact of Operational Changes at the East Hampton Airport on Montauk and the Montauk Airport:
CCOM is extremely concerned about any operational changes implemented at the East Hampton that may lead to operational changes at the Montauk Airport; and specifically changes that would negatively affect the Lake Montauk and Big Reed Pond watersheds. There must be a thorough, non-segmented environmental assessment and review completed for Montauk as part of the planning process the Town is currently undertaking.

South Fork Wind Farm

Concerned Citizens of Montauk believes a comprehensive portfolio of renewable and alternative energies must be combined with extensive energy conservation in order to address the climate crisis resulting from our region’s dependence on fossil fuels.  Additionally, the Town of East Hampton’s ambitious and warranted sustainable energy goals cannot be achieved without actively pursuing offshore wind energy and a utility-scale offshore wind project which may result from the South Fork Wind Farm initiative or other future proposed projects. We must, however, pay particular attention to, and minimize to the maximum extent possible, any known, unknown, or even unforeseen environmental impacts, including those related to the fishing industry and environmentally sensitive and preserved lands, associated with the installation, operation and maintenance of these technologies.  A rigorous and transparent permitting process must proceed, with extensive pre- through post-project monitoring to ensure we thoroughly understand and address impacts on the scaling of individual and multiple projects.


The Town of East Hampton’s Montauk Hamlet Plan

The environmental priorities and objectives outlined in the Montauk Hamlet Plan for both the downtown and harbor area address important, timely and critical environmental issues facing the Montauk Community (surface and groundwater pollution, beach erosion, climate change and sea level rise) and require the implementation of community wastewater and stormwater runoff improvements and increased resiliency and reduced risks associated with projected flooding, storms and sea level rise. To date the Town of East Hampton has begun to address some of these issues through the establishment and funding of several Town Committees- i.e. Montauk Community Wastewater System Committee, Montauk Beach Preservation Committee, Coastal Assessment & Resiliency Planning Committee. CCOM actively participates in these various committees and believes these committees and their continued work and evolution will help drive both the immediate and long term changes that are needed and outlined in the Montauk Hamlet Plan.


PSEG-LI Fort Pond Substation Relocation

Concerned Citizens of Montauk support a relocated substation which will be resilient to sea level rise and storm surge; a site which has been previously disturbed and has a lower environmental and ecological value; a site with as little additional clearing necessary as possible; a site in which planned activities have the least impact on drinking, ground and surface waters; and a site which the Montauk community supports. Please see CCOM LETTER TO PSEG OFFICIALS: APRIL 30, 2019.


Letter to EH Town Supervisor regarding Fort Pond Land Acquisitions