Water Forum Sunday at East Hampton’s Guild Hall



By Stephen J. Kotz

A spike in harmful algal blooms in ponds and bays and growing concern over the purity of the East End’s aquifer have made water the hot environmental topic in recent years.

“Let’s Talk About Water: East End,” an all-day forum that will feature films and activities for adults and children, before culminating in a panel discussion, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Sunday.

Linda Lilienfeld

The forum will be presented by Linda Lilienfeld, who owns a home in Sag Harbor and has had a long career as a researcher for documentary films and book publishing in New York.

Ms. Lilienfeld, who has presenting similar programs domestically and a broad for eight years, typically in college settings, said this week she found her way to the subject of water while researching climate change nearly two decades ago.

“Water knits it all together,” she said on Tuesday, noting that everyone has a connection to their water source, whether they live on the coast or miles inland.

It’s a topic that is being discussed broadly believes because it starting to have impact on people’s day-to-day lives. “People take notice when it affects them personally,” she said.

The day’s evens start with a light breakfast and a program geared for families that will include a screening of the Pixar film, “Wall-E” about a robot on a post-human Earth at 10 a.m. The film will be introduced by Sag Harbor Elementary School science teacher Kyrn Olson, who launched the school’s sustainable garden. Paul “Paul B” Baldassano, an aquarium keeper and author of “The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist,” will also speak.

In the afternoon the discussion will turn to the issues faced at Georgica Pond, in the groundwater and the new septic system incentives and programs being formulated in both East Hampton and Southampton Towns.

The film “H2O MX,” a documentary about how Mexico City, a completely inland city of more 20 million people, continually struggles to provide fresh water, will be shown at 2 p.m.

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring marine biologist Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, East Hampton Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, Sara Davison, executive director of the Friends of Georgica Pond, and Shawn C. Fisher, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The panel will be moderated by Ms. Lilienfeld and discuss the water cycle of the East End, from the health of ponds and bays, to the groundwater and water table, to how septic systems are coping with the demand of an ever growing population.

Ms. Lilienfeld said she believed the East End reflects the broader world when it comes to water issues.

“The more I read about Georgica Pond and the work being done by both the conservationists and scientists, I realized the East End can be a microcosm for the rest of the world to show both the dangers and the solutions to many of the world’s water issues,” she said. “It’s a community that has money, government support, and scientific rigor addressing the issue.”