Southold Town plans to contribute $ 24,500 from its general funds to the Peconic Estuary Partnership, a national program dedicated to improving water quality in the Peconic watershed.
East End cities have agreed for the first time to collectively match a portion of federal funds to the estuary program this year, Executive Director Joyce Novak said.
“The town of Southold was unanimously in favor of this notion this year,” she said. “We are really excited as this is a huge commitment to improving water quality in the watershed and we are really excited to be working closely with City Council and the communities of Southold. “
Peconic Estuary Partnership is currently partnering with several stakeholders to complete wetland restoration on Narrow River Road in the East and is working with the Village of Greenport and the Safe Harbor Marinas to secure state funding to improve sewers of the region. Program plans to reduce pollutant runoff into local water bodies include Hashamomuck Creek, Town and Jockey Creek, and Richmond Creek in Southold.
Shelter Island, Southampton and East Hampton all plan to contribute funds to the Peconic Estuary Partnership for the preservation of water quality through their community preservation funds. Riverhead plans to assign a municipal engineer to a wetland project there.
“With this influx of money from local government, we will be able to really push forward some of the priorities and our comprehensive management plan, which we rolled out in 2020,” Ms. Novak said.
A portion of Southold’s funds will be used for a diversity and inclusion initiative. Ms. Novak said the organization, which does not have “a very diverse management and policy board or a technical advisory committee,” is striving to be more inclusive.
“I think it’s very important when there are entire communities – which, even though we produce material in other languages and raise awareness in those areas – that we can do more,” said she declared.
The initiative, which will also be funded by East Hampton, includes a plan to hire an entrepreneur to develop a diversity and inclusion strategy, help find tools to improve community outreach, and to “engage directly. with these communities and bring them to the table so that they have a voice in what we do, ”Ms. Novak said.
“I think this is extremely important for this organization because we represent all the communities in the East End of Long Island,” she added.
Southold funds will also be used for staffing, travel, education and local incentive programs to improve water quality.
The organization, which is licensed under the Clean Water Act, is funded annually by the federal government through the Environmental Protection Agency. This year, Peconic Estuary Partnership received $ 700,000 in federal funds.
The organization also received $ 450,000 in state funding through the Environmental Protection Fund this year, an increase from $ 200,000 in previous years.