Conditional Shellfishing Program Begins in Centerport Harbor
As a further indication of improving water quality in Huntington waters, the Town of Huntington and the State Department of Environmental Conservation have begun a conditional shellfish harvesting program in a previously uncertified portion of Centerport Harbor.
According to a directive issued to shellfish harvesters, the program began December 15 and will continue until April 20. Shellfishing will be permitted in the area if rainfall on a given day does not exceed 0.3 inches for seven consecutive days. Additionally, the two sewage pump stations near the Mill Pond in Centerport must be operating without malfunctions that could result in the discharge of less than fully treated sewage into the Mill Pond. The area will remain open until the next day that a 0.3 inch rainfall is recorded. At that point, the process of conditionally certifying the area will begin again.
The area covers a portion of Centerport Harbor bounded on the north by a line that extends from the Huntington Beach Community Association on the west to the Centerport Beach windsurfing center on the east, and bounded on the south by a line that extends from the northeastern corner of the garage serving 1 Harding Court (on the west side) to the lighthouse-like structure near the shoreline of the property at 16 Keith Court (on the east side).
Persons wanting to harvest shellfish in the area need to call the Town at 631-351-3256 after 7:30 a.m. to see if the waters are certified for that day.
“This is good news for commercial shellfisherman, and a further indication that the measures the Town has undertaken in the past few years to improve water quality in our harbors are succeeding,” Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said. “We have now gone through a season without a red tide closure in the waters, the long-closed beach at the Centerport Yacht Club has reopened, and now we have this additional positive development. Taken together, this demonstrates the benefits of different levels of government working together with the boating community, environmental groups and academia to attack and solve a significant issue.”
In 2010, Supervisor Petrone, working with Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, formed the Northport Harbor Water Quality Protection Committee. Supervisor Petrone and Ms. Esposito co-chair the committee, whose members include elected officials from the Town and the incorporated villages of Northport and Asharoken; federal, state and Suffolk County officials and agencies; representatives from local yacht clubs and interested citizens.
The committee has met steadily and has studied ways to restore Northport Harbor and other adjacent waters to good health. In October 2010, the committee issued a draft action plan. The plan included a series of short-, medium- and long-term initiatives and suggestions about how various levels of government could work together and how to seek funding to implement the recommendations.
Among the committee’s accomplishments are fostering creation of the six-member Northport Harbor Water Quality Protection Inter-Municipal Council, whose members are the Supervisor, the mayors of Asharoken and Northport and one additional representative from each of the three respective municipalities. The Council has the legal authority to apply for state and federal funds, as well as the legal authority to apply for state and federal funds in order to conduct studies, develop management plans, provide educational services and coordinate water quality protection and enhancement programs.
Among the committee’s other accomplishments are that it:
- Developed uniform codes that were enacted by Northport, Asharoken and the Town.
- Initiated a pilot program for eel grass restoration.
- Conducted a dye test for the Centerport Sewer District and a video survey of the Centerport Harbor Circle sewer line to identify the source of contamination.
- Helped the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Northport Village work together to inspect intertidal zone for repairing the sewer line and got Northport to agree upgrade its waste collection system by repairing the two sewer pipes exposed at low tide.
- Worked with federal elected officials to obtain a grant to continue and expand water testing for toxic Red Tide.
- Helped obtain a Suffolk County funding to upgrade the Northport sewer plant.
The Town also partnered with the Citizens Campaign to obtain a federal grant that helped fund construction of a bioswale rain garden at Centerport Beach, completed in late 2016, that was aimed filtering 80 percent of the stormwater runoff there that has been polluting Centerport Harbor. That is important because as rainwater and melting snow flow across roads, parking lots, rooftops and other impervious surfaces, they pick up harmful pollutants such as heavy metals, oil, pesticides, sediment and pet waste that ultimately end up on beaches and in bays. This polluted runoff is one of the leading causes of pollution to area waters.