Board fielding offers of private funds for irrigation study

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Hoot Sherman at Monday night’s Water Advisory Committee said politics has already entered the debate on the irrigation law moratorium.

Following the  Town Board vote Friday to place a moratorium on implementing a law banning underground irrigation systems, Supervisor Jim Dougherty said Monday that help might be on the way from the private sector.

Speaking to the Water Advisory Committee Monday, the supervisor said some well-heeled Islanders had offered to bear the expense of an independent study to determine whether a ban on the systems is necessary or whether new technology exists that would make them more efficient.

Friday’s  Town Board vote to delay implementation of the ban,  due to take effect September 1, was unanimous. The board now has until May 1 to either implement or abandon the ban.

WAC Chairman John Hall told the supervisor he hopes any action the Town Board takes won’t  get political. Committee member Hoot Sherman said that might have already occurred, suggesting the moratorium was put in place so the issue wouldn’t have to be finalized prior to the November election.

Taking money from residents willing to bear the expense of a new study with the caveat that contributors have no influence on who is selected to conduct it is appealing, Mr. Dougherty said. He added that the town has no money to invest in such a study.

Whoever is chosen to do the study has to be someone with no “axe to grind,” Mr. Sherman said.