Suffolk County lawmakers are expected to vote next month on a plan to help fund efforts to save Stony Brook Creek from elevated levels of sediment by improving nearby drainage systems.
The $503,000 project would include installing new drain pipes along state Route 25A and making other infrastructure upgrades. Backers of the plan say the current drainage system has filled the creek, a tributary of Stony Brook Harbor, with polluted stormwater that harms the ecosystem and prevents recreational activities such as boating.
The Brookhaven Town Board voted 7-0 earlier this year to approve the project. The town is asking the county Legislature to cover half of the project's cost, or about $251,526.
The Legislature's environment, planning and agriculture committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the plan at 10 a.m. Aug. 26 at the William H. Rogers Building in Smithtown. The full legislature could vote on the project Sept. 4.
Gloria Rocchio, president of the nonprofit Ward Melville Heritage Organization, said the drainage problem stems from a decision made decades ago by Melville, the late Stony Brook developer, to allow state authorities to drain stormwater runoff into a pond he owned.
“He permitted that, which was a mistake," Rocchio said. "All the silt was going off into the pond."
Sediment from the pond, in turn, drained into the creek, leaving the river too shallow for boating and other recreation, she said, adding that new drain pipes would direct sediment away from the creek.
“That would take care of the silt," she said. "There would be no more silt going into the creek, which is filling up from eons and eons” of sediment deposits.
Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said crews hired by the town will construct 32 catch basins and install 2,300 linear feet of pipe to redirect stormwater runoff. Runoff instead will be deposited in wetlands areas, which will serve as a natural filter that disperses sediment, he said.
Bids for the project will be put out this fall, and construction is expected to start during the winter, he said. The project should be completed in the summer of 2021, he said.
Sediment buildup has caused the creek to become too warm and too dark as algae proliferates and harms the river's health, Losquadro said. Four outfall pipes that currently feed runoff into the creek will be disconnected, he said.
"We’re not going to discharge sediment directly into the creek anymore,” Losquadro said. “You’re not going to have pollutant-laden and organic-rich sediment. It will be filtered through the system. We’re looking to significantly improve the health of this waterway.”
With Titus Wu