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Apr 30, 2019 3:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pitch To Filter Algae From Wainscott Pond Has East Hampton Town Trustees Asking Questions

Algae-reducing filtration system, Wainscott Pond
May 2, 2019 5:23 PM

A proposal by a citizens group to use a giant filter and suction system to filter toxic algae out of the waters of Wainscott Pond was met with some skepticism by the East Hampton Town Trustees last week, though the board wants to hear more information.

The idea, presented to the board by Wainscott resident Simon Kinsella, representing the citizens group Wainscott Pond Project, envisions installing a 9-foot-long filtration pump on the pond’s shoreline. It would be connected with a series of pipes to an intake and outflow that would suck in water from one portion of the pond, filter out harmful algae using mesh screens, and pump water back into the pond.

The system, Mr. Kinsella said, would provide some chance at immediate improvements in water quality in the pond, while longer-term efforts to stanch influxes of nitrogen that feed the algae blooms are underway.

“This is to buy us time,” Mr. Kinsella said. “We have microcystins within 720 feet of the Wainscott School. There is urgency.”

He likened the proposal to the recent use of a floating tractor to remove globs of aquatic vegetation from Georgica Pond—except moving the pond through the screen, rather than moving the screen around the pond.

Like many of the South Fork’s freshwater lakes, Wainscott Pond has been plagued in recent years by blooms of blue-green algae that naturally produce a toxin that can be harmful or fatal to humans or animals that ingest it. Recent studies show that the toxic spores of algae can also be blown by high winds up to a mile from a water body where blue-green algae is blooming.

Mr. Kinsella said the pump could exchange between 100 and 300 gallons of water per minute and would be focused on the small northernmost tip of the pond, where a small cove has shown the highest levels of nitrogen and has had the most chronic blooms of the toxic algae. It is also the area closest to the Wainscott School.

Members of the Town Trustees wondered how the system could be arranged so that it skimmed only the harmful algae and not beneficial organisms from the water. Some also worried that fish and other pond life would get sucked in by the system.

Mr. Kinsella said that screens on the intake would prevent fish from being sucked in, and that once the system was running, tinkering with the mesh sizes of the filters and placement of the intake at different depths of the lake could help target the harmful algae specifically.

“My concern is that you’re going to be sucking in … every living thing,” Trustee James Grimes said.

The Trustees asked that the Friends of Wainscott Pond have Stony Brook University professor Christopher Gobler, Ph.D., come to discuss the approach before they make any decisions about allowing the filtration system.

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Just stop polluting the pond. Residents stop donating MONEY and fix the cesspools that are polluting.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on May 3, 19 2:16 PM
Could not agree more Knitter. I guarantee that not one of the "Friends of Georgica" or "Wainscott Pond Project" have updated their septic systems. Instead that pat each other on the back a cocktail parties while that ask the municipality to move heaven and earth at the tax payers expense. We all know the solution is to update septics and stop fertilizing your lawns around the pond.
By Morty (4), east hampton on May 4, 19 7:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
By Colt (37), Wainscott on May 6, 19 11:48 AM