Forum To Focus On Water

“Water, water, everywhere / Nor any drop to drink” — the oft misquoted lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” — could soon apply to the East End, where concerns over water quality have risen to the crisis level in recent years.

Algae blooms, once a rare occurrence, now take up annual residence in ponds and bays, and the region’s sole-source aquifer is under constant assault from leaking septic systems, fertilizer and pesticide run-off, and any number of other pollutants.

In response to those concerns and with an eye toward celebrating and preserving the East End’s most precious natural resource, The Independent will host the inaugural Water Views Festival on Sunday, November 11, at the Ross School in East Hampton.

The day will include programming featuring environmental scientists, NGOs, and community leaders tackling water conservation issues on Long Island. It will also have family-friendly activities highlighting local eco-initiatives, and celebrating the natural beauty of Long Island. The Water Views Festival will consist of talks and presentations from 10 AM to noon and an eco-expo and food tastings from noon until 3 PM.

Five keynote speakers will address issues of water quality. Edwina von Gal, a landscape architect, is founder of the Perfect Earth Project, a nonprofit that promotes toxin-free lawns and landscapes. Michael Ogden is the founder of Natural Systems International, an engineering firm in the San Francisco Bay area that focuses on providing ecological solutions to local, regional, and global water problems.

Joining them will be Murray Fisher, the founder of the Billion Oyster Project, which, as its name implies, intends to seed one billion oysters in New York Harbor by 2035 while working with school children on a variety of marine restoration projects. Beth Rattner is the executive director of the Biomimicry Institute, which focuses on using nature-based solutions in design and business applications. Gaelin Rosenwaks, an ocean explorer and photographer, who founded Global Ocean Exploration, will share her passion for ocean exploration, marine conservation, and photography and videography.

A “State of Our Waters” panel will feature Long Island’s leading water conservation experts including Dr. Christopher Gobler, the director of the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology and a marine sciences professor at Stony Brook University; Deputy Suffolk County Executive Peter Scully, who oversees water quality projects for the county, and Nancy Kelley, the executive director of The Nature Conservancy/Long Island Chapter. They will discuss issues related to drinking water, fresh water bodies, and the ocean. The discussion will highlight water quality challenges, and the opportunities and efforts underway to address these challenges.

Following the talks and panel discussion, the festival will offer food tastings from local sustainable restaurants and family-friendly activities that are designed to be both educational and engaging. Local businesses, NGOs, and environmental groups will highlight eco-initiatives at the event.

Participating vendors include Flowers by Beth, Friends of Georgica Pond, The Nature Conservancy, Stony Brook Center for Clean Water Technology, the Surfrider Foundation, the Children’s Museum of the East End, Perfect Earth Project, the Art Barge, and the South Fork Natural History Museum. Food tastings will be provided by the Amagansett Food Institute, Calissa, The Maidstone, and LuLu’s.

RSVP by emailing [email protected].

[email protected]

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