Supervisors and mayors of East End towns and villages announced the creation of The Peconic Estuary Protection Committee on Wednesday, October 28, after the monthly meeting of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association in Southampton.
Under an intermunicipal agreement, the committee is tasked with collaboration on water quality protection. The compact includes the villages of Greenport, North Haven and Sag Harbor, the towns of Southold, Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island and Riverhead, the county of Suffolk and the New York State Department of Transportation.
The Peconic Estuary watershed spans the headwaters of the Peconic River to the Block Island Sound, inclusive of the many bays in between, such as Flanders, the Peconics and Gardiners.
“The Committee recognizes the Peconic Estuary as an estuary of national significance and a vital coastal ecosystem essential to the environmental and economic well-being of the people in the surrounding communities,” remarked committee coordinator Rachel Gruzen. “The Committee is deeply concerned with the existing degradation of the Peconic Estuary due to a variety of pollutant sources, including stormwater runoff, septic system discharges, agricultural and residential fertilization, groundwater flows, illegal dumping, floatable debris and boat waste. The Committee aims to protect, restore and enhance the Peconic Estuary to ensure a healthy and diverse marine ecosystem while balancing and maintaining recreational and commercial uses.”
Alison Branco, the director of the Peconic Estuary Program, added, “The intermunicipal coalition also provides a long-term, legal mechanism for local governments within our watershed to pool funds for important priority water quality protection initiatives into the future.”