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Huntington to clean Northport Bay with $140G national grant

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone in his

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone in his office in Huntington in this photo taken on Sept. 22, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded the Town of Huntington nearly $140,000 for a project expected to capture and treat 80 percent of the stormwater entering Northport Bay from Centerport Beach.

The town board authorized Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone on Dec. 8 to sign a contract formalizing the grant, which aims to help stop more than 300,000 gallons of stormwater from entering Northport Bay.

Currently, untreated stormwater runoff at Centerport is funneled directly into the bay. As a result, sediment and harmful pollutants on the ground surface are reaching the water.

The discharges have created a visible sediment plume in the water, said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which has an office in Farmingdale and partnered with the town on the grant application.

The town will match the Wildlife Foundation’s $137,322 grant with $107,322, and The Citizens Campaign has pledged $30,000 in public outreach support, as the foundation requires.

The $274,644 project will replace asphalt at the edge of the parking lot with surfaces and landscaping that intercept stormwater as it flows toward the beach, absorbing and treating it in the process, according to the town’s grant application.

The project will create a water runoff path with gravel-lined areas and native plants in permeable soil that will capture groundwater and remove silt and pollution before it reaches the bay.

Esposito said officials hope the Centerport project shows other municipalities that investing in environmentally sound infrastructure can reap significant long-term rewards.

“We believe this project will serve as an exemplary example of green infrastructure to treat surface water runoff,” Esposito said in an email.

She said the changes will reduce the presence of harmful algae blooms, which can deprive underwater ecosystems of oxygen, force beach closures, harm shellfish and potentially humans who consume them.

When the project is complete, educational materials and kiosks will be available at Centerport Beach for visitors to learn about the science behind the project and its benefits.

Construction is scheduled to begin in March and be completed in July.

The grant was among 22 announced in November totaling more than $1.3 million to local government and community groups in Connecticut and New York to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound.

“Long Island Sound is an amazing natural resource, which provides recreation and economic opportunities for millions of people,” Judith A. Enck, a federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said in a news release. “These projects are smart investments that will improve water quality and build resiliency in shoreline communities.”

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