The water was a scintillating, sparkling blue and the air was super crisp. The parking lot was almost empty except for one gentleman walking his graying Labrador out the back. The sun warmed my shoulders as I unstrapped my stand up Bark raceboard and I sighed deeply, again, so grateful to live in this glorious place where my backyard included….this.
I had decided to go for a paddle off of in Sag Harbor. These early, spring days have been so warm and special that I’ve recently fallen in love with Sag Harbor again as a favored paddling spot. So, I untied my new 12’6” Bark Competitor from the roof of my car, and headed down the beach.
Carrying my board to the water’s edge, there was a sign I hadn’t noticed before. “HAZORDOUS BACTERIA. AVOID ALL CONTACT WITH WATER IN THIS AREA.” WTF?? My brain wouldn’t register what this sign said. Total NIMBY moment. I’ve never seen any signage before in the Hamptons warning beachgoers of water quality. In California, YES!!! Other places, I guess so. But, here in the Hamptons? Never.
I explored further and discovered that the alga in the water close to shore was red. My understanding is that this is a pollutant algae that indicate a poor water quality. In fact, to wade out at Havens, one has to wade through 2-3 feet of this stuff, and it looks gross. There it was on the beach, along the high tide line, and over here by the stream mouth, the stuff was running rampant.
No way. Not in MY backyard!!!
I went for my paddle. I always do. But, my mind was preoccupied with what I’d seen back there in the water and on the land. The rest of the harbor was magnificent, deep, clean, empty boat slips, big blue sky and me, touring along with my Bark, my new favorite companion. Has it really come to THIS? Have the Hamptons become such a hot spot that the bays are becoming…contaminated?
Some research when I got home revealed that Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, has been warning us about these intrusions upon our waterways for quite some time. In fact, there was a recent article in about the Havenss Beach issue. Apparently, this hazardous bacteria indicates a higher level of human and canine fecal matter than is healthy for a bathing beach. In short, skin rashes, ear infections and other ailments have been linked back to a drainage pipe at Havens that is improperly filtering its run-off. You can read this article and its wake up call here:
Scarier still are the reports and articles regarding the and the plumes of contaminated water that have been cited, “repeatedly between February 2008 and last March for excessive levels of various elements, including nitrogen and mercury, in discharge from the plant, part of what the state agency called an “ongoing problem.” (EH Star: “Waste Plant Review”, Jan. 26, 2012). The powers that be are refusing to discuss these levels in public. Instead, they are seeking to quietly get rid of the Waste Plant by selling it to the highest bidder – in this case, the only bidder.
Main Beach Surf & Sport in Wainscott is dedicated to doing something about this crisis NOW. As year-round watermen and women, we are fully committed to protecting our local are beaches, ponds, lakes and estuaries. On Saturday, May 19th, we are hosting The Race for the Bays, our first Stand Up Paddle race of the season at Havens Beach. This SUP race is a fundraiser to help The Peconic Bay Keeper’s Clean Water Act which seeks to keep our bays healthy and free from chemicals, pesticide run off and other pollutants. Kevin McAllister will be on hand to give us an update on Havens Beach and other local area waterways.
This is a day for everyone! Bring the kids, enjoy the fun; but, most importantly, help to to raise awareness of these local issues and be a part of the solution.
Race registration begins at 8 a.m. on the 19th at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor. There will be a 3-mile course and an Elite 6-mile course. Everyone and anyone can enter. Registration is $40 in advance and $50 on the day of the race. Proceeds go directly to Kevin McAllister and the Peconic Baykeeper. Even if you’re not a SUP racer, come on down to support, or donate by making out a check to The Peconic Baykeeper and dropping it off at Main Beach Surf & Sport, 352 Montauk Hwy., Wainscott NY.
Mahalo & see you out there.