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Oct 3, 2019 3:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Governor Cuomo And DEC Launch Blue-Green Algae Removal Pilot Program In Southampton Village

Crews position containment booms in Lake Agawam on Thursday morning.    DANA SHAW
Oct 8, 2019 3:32 PM

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is running a pilot program that officials hope will remove or reduce the amount of blue-green algae that plagues Lake Agawam in Southampton Village.

Using new technology, the DEC plans to have the algae, also known as cyanobacteria, skimmed from the surface of the lake, pumped to a portable treatment machine, where the algae will be removed and the water treated, before clean H2O is sent back to the lake — the algae that is removed will be transported to a treatment facility somewhere in Suffolk County.

“We have a frightening problem with these algal blooms — HABS, or harmful algal blooms,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said last Thursday during a press conference at Agawam Park. “These are toxic algae blooms, and they’re dangerous for pets. They’re dangerous for human consumption. They literally have toxins in them.”

Mr. Cuomo — surrounded by local and county officials — made the announcement of the pilot program with the toxic green lake behind him.

The issue of harmful algae blooms is a national one that is abundant in the state. Mr. Cuomo said lakes in upstate New York that are relied upon for drinking water also suffer from blue-green algae, and each year the blooms get worse.

“We all know the reasons for this surge in algal blooms are complicated, but they are due, in large part, to the way we treat our water, and also to the change in climate,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said last Thursday. “The trick to stopping these algal blooms is to obviously stop them from happening in the first place, putting an enormous amount of emphasis on protecting watersheds … When blooms happen, we have to do something about them. We can’t sit idly by.”

Mr. Seggos referred to the Agawam project as an “algae harvester” and said it is a pilot program that has never been used in the state.

The pilot will last for 10 days, and the data obtained will help the state determine if the program is successful. If it is successful, the state will use the data to figure out how to apply the program going forward in other areas.

“This is the best cutting-edge technology that we have been able to identify, and we want to get ahead of the curve,” Mr. Cuomo said. “If it works, it is very promising.”

Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren only found out about the pilot program on Wednesday, he said, and an emergency Village Board meeting was held that night to enter into an agreement with the DEC to allow the state agency to conduct the work.

Village Trustee Kimberly Allan said her first question was how much the project would cost, and she was told it would cost nothing to the village.

Mr. Warren said last Thursday that if the pilot is successful, he is under the impression that the DEC will pay for the actual cleaning of the lake, but that remains to be seen.

“The pilot is valuable,” Ms. Allan said. “You learn from every test. We’re running out of time, and we have to go after everything we can.”

Mr. Warren was also optimistic about the pilot program. He said many people think of climate change as something global and on a large scale, but it can be felt locally.

“The reality is, that right here, locally, in our village of Southampton, we are seeing the effects of climate change at home, and that is visually illustrated right here in our green lake, filled with the highest level of blue-green algae and toxicity ever recorded,” Mr. Warren said. “We’re going to address one result of climate change at a time, starting here today with the removal of blue-green algae.

“This is an incredible opportunity, not just for Southampton, but for all of New York State,” he added.

The announcement of the pilot program was kept under wraps, and the Village Board held a last minute emergency meeting on the night of Wednesday, October 2, to enter into the agreement with the DEC to do the work.

Southampton Town Trustee Ed Warner Jr. said he was aware that something was in the works earlier in the week, although he could not say anything until an agreement was in place between the DEC and the village.

Mr. Warner, along with Town Trustees Bruce Stafford and Ann Welker, attended Mr. Cuomo’s announcement of the pilot program last Thursday.

While Lake Agawam is located in the Village of Southampton, the bottom of the lake is maintained and owned by the Town Trustees.

“I think this is a good temporary solution, but long term, we have to do something much bigger here,” Mr. Warner said. “I think the first thing that should be done is to stop the groundwater from coming all the way from County Road 39.”

He suggested added catch basins between the main thruway and Lake Agawam to absorb nutrients before the water reaches the lake.

Village Superintendent of Public Works Gary Goleski has been aggressively working to add catch basins throughout the village.

His most recent project — which is being paid for using Community Preservation Fund money — has catch basins being installed near the Southampton Village Long Island Rail Road station. Mr. Goleski also added dry wells along Jobs Lane this year.

Village residents, state and local elected officials and environmental experts met at billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson’s home on Lake Agawam in September to discuss ways to improve the health of the lake.

It was a kickoff meeting for the planned Lake Agawam Conservancy — a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that was pitched by Mr. Warren in August that aimed to get the private sector to tackle the issues plaguing Lake Agawam.

During the meeting, Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University provided numerous methods that could be used to clean up the lake, including floating wetlands that help pull nitrogen and phosphorous from the water, wider buffers, improved septic systems, dredging and skimming the floating blue-green algae scum from the water and pumping the water through an area of vegetation before sending it back to the lake — the latter sounds similar to the project that started at the lake last Thursday.

Mr. Warner attended the conservancy meeting with Mr. Stafford and Town Trustee Bill Pell, and said he supports the filtration project taking place at the lake.

“I think doing nothing, you’re going to get nothing,” Mr. Warner said. “Doing something, at least you’re going to make some inroads, and if it’s a success, we’ll know how to take it further. If it’s a failure, you go back to the drawing board and start over again.”

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Mayor Jesse Warren ... A breath of fresh air and a start for clean water for Lake Agawam.

Kudos to the Mayor !
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Oct 3, 19 4:48 PM
What did Jesse do? It seems that The DEC is behind this.
By Draggerman (954), Southampton on Oct 3, 19 6:03 PM
Fredo Cuomo is weak, and not very smart.
By themarlinspike (540), Northern Hemisphere on Oct 5, 19 10:29 AM
Doing "something" and taking action that will address the problem are often two entirely different things with politicians.
By Seajay (12), East Quogue on Oct 6, 19 12:04 PM
Great job jessie. Rally to troops in12 hours. Great photos of all the politicians, thought it was about the lake??? Where were out Town TRUSTEES??? Aren't they in charge of out WATERS???
Scott. don't sell the lake...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Oct 3, 19 6:55 PM
The Trustees are Southampton Town, the Village is separate, so they probably don't have any jurisdiction.
By laa71 (8), SAG HARBOR on Oct 4, 19 12:35 PM
Draggerman, Jesse made the clean up of Lake Agawam a major priority during his campaign. Unlike many politicians, when he won, Jesse set out to establish a group of local Lake Agawam homeowners and other interested parties to work on ways to remediate this serious problem.

As you know, Election Day is approaching very quickly. So now, from nowhere, the DEC got involved. Whatever the case, let's hope they find a solution.

Knitter, you're right. Where are the Trustees? (AKA The Rose ...more
By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on Oct 3, 19 7:39 PM
I support the youthful energy of Jesse Warren, and think he has shown some real leadership already on Lake Agawam. But, let’s face it, this was a staged political event orchestrated for Cuomo’s allies facing election in a month (there are many), and Jesse found out about it mere hours before we did. But that’s ok..the fact of the matter is that Steve Bellone, Jay Schneiderman and Jesse Warren have managed to get State resources focused on our lake. I’ll take it, and they’ll ...more
By CPalmer (120), Southampton on Oct 3, 19 9:05 PM
Thanks for cleaning it up in October, but it will be back next year because the main problem is not addressed. Governor Cuomo, when quoted, makes it seem like the toxic blooms have magically appeared. It has been unsafe for humans and pets since July. Let's get the homeowners(and their landscape maintenance crews) to think about a long term solution.
By ArturoBandini (30), on Oct 3, 19 9:55 PM
This will NEVER work and is a total waste of time and money. The cause of the lake’s suffocation is the 2 feet of sediment on the lake bed.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 4, 19 5:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you for NOT pumping the water into the ocean
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Oct 4, 19 7:01 AM
kudos to the effort. but as far as the 'skimmer' goes as the water cools and the sunlight dimishees the algae goes into an 'encysted' form and will sink to the bottom. You see 'Lake Agawam' is not a lake it is a pond. 'Big Fresh Pond" is not a pond but a lake. The difference is that a lake has an 'avegetal zone', which is an area of deeper water where sunlight does not penetrate and algae cannot grow and survive, this is about 30 feet deep. So the surface skimmer in a pond is quite ineffective ...more
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 4, 19 8:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
so i checked and the depth that adequate sunlight can penetrate is 20 feet; the pond has a maximum depth of 12-15 feet... so it is a pond
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 5, 19 8:59 PM
How can I vote for Fred Havermeyer? Where is he running? Who is he running with?
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Oct 4, 19 8:05 AM
CleanWaters, Fred Havemeyer and Eric Shultz will both be on the Libertarian Line in November.

Vote for Honesty, Knowledge and Trust.

Vote for Fred Havemeyer and Eric Shultz.

By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on Oct 4, 19 12:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Jessie just found out about it the night before according to Greg.
Lea, the SH trustees have control of all waters in the township. Trustees are giving up their jobs. Look at Rose Hill fiasco, they all voted for it, Dumb and Dumber....
Vote for Fred and Eric Libertarian Line. Remember how well it ran years ago, let's have that again...
Best Photo Op of the Year...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Oct 4, 19 2:17 PM
and don't forget Thea Fry, another voice of reason for the freeholders
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 4, 19 8:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
Cuomo get out loser. No one wants you and your corrupted team that has driven LI to un livable for middle class folks who have grown up here. Thanks for ruining it for my grandkids.The liberals have ruined the TOS and everything around it.
By watchoutnow968 (56), Southampton on Oct 5, 19 8:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
There are companies that “de-muck” the bottom of ponds/lakes but the owners aren’t friends of Cuomo so they won’t get taxpayer cash. Solutions are available but we now have Cuomo using our village to slip his supporters taxpayer money for what they KNOW is a waste of time and the primary offenders leading and hosting task forces. When you’re serious about cleaning up the lake- let us know.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 6, 19 7:51 AM
if a picture is worth 1000 words i look at the photo that features the inept efforts of the state to pretend to have a clue as to what they are doing. the device they have set up is for an oil spill or to catch floating trash, not for micro algae. Not one but two two cycle outboards that are spitting oil out with their subsurface exhaust; plus they stink and are the toxic to the air we breath. It appears that the plan is that there is no plan; shoot from the hip [when you are a poor shot ...more
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 6, 19 12:13 PM
and to quote, "never been used in the state" the folks in East Hampton utilized an algae harvester to actually remove the macro algae that was clogging up the Georgica Pond and rotting like sulphurous eggs. just sayin'. http://friendsofgeorgicapond.org/tag/harvester/
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 6, 19 1:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 7, 19 5:44 AM
Can’t see the motor on the center console, but that’s a Honda 4 stroke on the whaler, Bub.

And all politicians are trying to get their hooks into the CPF. The new “clean water” clause opens up all kinds of finagling.
By Draggerman (954), Southampton on Oct 9, 19 12:20 AM
ok. i stand corrected. i saw photos of the 'machine' last night and it does remove micro algae. but that is like spitting in the ocean to cause sea level rise. it only takes one to start reproducing; they are single celled organisms. need to clean up watershed activity

By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 17, 19 8:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
Tire dust is a major source of microplastics in coastal waters
Jeremy Korzeniewski 20 hrs ago

By now you're probably aware that the world is inundated by microplastics — defined as plastic particles that measure smaller than 5 millimeters — with the tiny bits showing up everywhere, including the world's lakes, oceans, tap water and even in fish and shellfish. Scientists from all across the globe are studying the causes and effects of the proliferation these tiny plastic ...more
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Oct 6, 19 8:25 AM
Have we heard from Dr Gobler???
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Oct 6, 19 11:51 AM
How many payrolls is Chris Gobler on and how many groups does he consult for?
By 11953guest (48), southampton on Oct 6, 19 5:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
New York's waters (lakes, rivers and streams) fall within one of 17 major watersheds, or drainage basins. A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a specific body of water. ... Watersheds are separated by high elevation geographic features (mountains, hills, ridges).

FROM THE HYSDEC WEBSITE

Oceans & Estuaries
long grasses growing on a beach
New York State has shoreline on the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Freshwater rivers and streams draining into the ocean around ...more
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 8, 19 12:41 PM
Cuomo must be polling poorly with white women. Media and pro Cuomo Dems were looking for white women for a photo op at Lake Agawam today. Cuomos are wasting our tax dollars on a phony election year game.

Wake up
By even fIow (58), Westhampton Beach on Oct 8, 19 5:45 PM
yup
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 9, 19 10:22 AM
Looking for a new girlfriend for the state house. Can she cook?
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Oct 10, 19 12:28 PM
Does the Village need to get a permit from the DEC every time they open the valve and let Agawam? If not, why not?
By bigfresh (4661), north sea on Oct 11, 19 6:31 AM
It's typical that Dr. Gobler makes no mention of fertilizer and a producer and supporter of blue-green algae. Let's not offend the lakeside residents by suggesting they curtail fertilizers.

By patricia hope (3), East Hampton on Oct 13, 19 11:10 AM
Can they keep their greens lawns and just donate more money???
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Oct 15, 19 11:23 AM