East Hampton Town has pledged to help Sag Harbor implement a series of stormwater runoff abatement projects along Bay Street and in the Azurest neighborhood, using the town’s Community Preservation Fund revenues.
The town has already approved about $77,000 to pay Nelson & Pope Engineers for designs of the runoff treatments, which will include a collection of rain gardens and permeable sections of pavement to capture and filter more rainwater before it flows into Sag Harbor Cove.
Southampton Town already has pledged some $286,000 to fund similar projects on Glover Street, Amherst Road and Cove Road, which are on the other side of the town line.
All the projects were picked from several recommended by consultants in the village’s Water Quality Improvement Project Plan, adopted in 2016.
Maryann Eddy, chairwoman of the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee, which is spearheading the runoff abatement initiative, said that the work along Bay Street and in Azurest was prioritized by the bang for the buck.
“Nelson Pope ranked the projects according to the amount of reduction, pounds of nitrogen, that would be achieved per dollar [spent],” Ms. Eddy said last week. “These were the projects that had the biggest reductions, so they are going first, then we’ll go back and work on the others.”
The first round of work calls for the installation of about 6,500 square feet of “pervious pavement” along the parking areas on the north side of Bay Street, adjacent to Marine Park and the Sag Harbor Yacht Club boat basin. The pavement in the two areas—which will be beneath parking spaces only, not the traffic lanes—would be replaced with paving tiles with gaps between them, allowing water rushing along the street to percolate into the ground rather than flowing freely to the harbor.
A rain garden will also be installed in a low spot at the eastern edge of Marine Park, where Marine Park Drive turns toward Bay Street. Five more of the stands of vegetation interspersed with swales to capture water will be installed in Azurest, along Terry Drive, where Milton Avenue and Walker Avenue slope toward the bay.
“Those neighborhoods are very hilly, and those are areas that they identified as where there is water gushing toward the beach,” Ms. Eddy said.
Rain gardens are engineered landscaping features with plants chosen specifically for their ability to quickly absorb nutrients, especially nitrogen, from water. The plants are arranged among swales that capture water during runoff, allowing more of it to filter into the ground and be absorbed by the plants.
High levels of nitrogen in local waters have been blamed for blooms of algae in Sag Harbor Cove that have forced closures of shellfishing harvests and killed fish and other marine animals in recent years.
The village’s water quality plan calls for the installation of additional sections of pervious pavement in the Marine Park area, which East Hampton Town officials say will be tackled once the first round of work is completed.