Originally published in the East Hampton Star.
September 14, 2015
To the Editor:
We attended the East Hampton Town Trustees meeting on Sept. 8 and were dismayed by the trustees’ refusal to promptly open Georgica Pond to the ocean to flush out a toxic blue-green algae bloom that seriously endangers the health of Georgica Pond, its ecosystem, and its community of users including boaters and baymen.
In 2012, following the death of Annie and John Hall’s Jack Russell from blue-green algae poisoning, the trustees retained Christopher Gobler of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook to advise them on the pond. This year, the newly formed Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation retained Dr. Gobler to perform a comprehensive and ongoing, in-depth study of the reasons for the declining health of the pond and to propose a remediation plan. The initial conclusions of that study were published on Aug. 1.
A key finding was the importance of regular openings of the cut to the ocean. Following the appearance of a toxic algae bloom in August, Dr. Gobler advised the town trustees that a prompt opening of the pond would remove that dangerous bloom, which cannot survive in saltwater. Although the town trustees closed the pond to crabbing and swimming on Aug. 11, they have so far taken no action that would directly address the current danger. (By way of contrast, the Southampton Town Trustees promptly opened Sagg Pond to the ocean in late August following evidence of an outbreak of blue-green algae.)
We have formed the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation to facilitate a public-private partnership with the Town and the Village of East Hampton and the town trustees. If we collectively fail to act (and if there is no cooperation between the trustees and the Department of Environmental Conservation), Georgica Pond will be lost to recurring and dangerous algae blooms caused by excessive nutrients and accumulating sediments, and in 20 years there may no longer be an open body of water. Georgica Pond could simply become a phragmites-covered swamp. Is this what we want for our children and grandchildren?
Public-private cooperation is necessary, not only to preserve a treasured and impaired body of water, but also to assure the safety of the public. We ask all residents and users of the pond to urge the town trustees to do what is so obviously and urgently needed. Please open Georgica Pond to the ocean as soon as possible. There is no legitimate reason for the delay.
JONATHAN M. WAINWRIGHT