Letters to the Editor: Refreshing the Pond


To the Editor:
With the houses, cesspools, run-off and resulting leaching that’s going on, it isn’t surprising that the phosphorus content in Fresh Pond is so high (“Town: No swimming,” October 3). That’s the bad news. The good news is that the cycle of contamination can be reversed fairly easily, inexpensively and very effectively by using a process called “phytoremediation.”

Phytoremediation is a proven technology that uses native, non-invasive plants, placed in pots in a float system. The plants readily uptake the contaminants through their root systems, filter them and then release the phosphorus and other contamination into the air as a clean by-product.

It’s a very simple and yet very effective process and does not disturb the integrity of the body of water or soil (in the case) of land applications, where it is being implemented. It is simple to maintain. You only switch out plants when they become too large, and aesthetically it is very pleasing. It appears like a floating garden or in this case, gardens.

Once the pond has been remediated, you can then leave one or two rafts in place indefinitely to make sure that it does not become overloaded again.

I urge the Town Board to look seriously at this technology and if they are interested and have any money left over from contaminating the Island with permethrin, I’d be glad to sit on a committee to look at phytoremediation’s feasibility in solving the water quality issues at Fresh Pond. Then people could continue to enjoy the pond as they do now. Many generations of children, including my sons, have developed a deep appreciation of the natural word, in part because of the time they spent exploring Fresh Pond. It certainly makes more sense than continuing to spread pesticides over our Island, into our waters, and in our wildlife as we are doing now, with no real science to justify what is or isn’t happening.

Let’s start now on a project that does make sense and will leave a positive legacy on our Island. Then in the spring, the raft systems can be implemented. Here’s a good place to begin.
Shelter Island

A long time coming

To the Editor:
To many of us, it’s not surprising at all that Fresh Pond was deemed an environmentally impaired waterway. One doesn’t need a master’s degree in biology/chemistry to ascertain that a human, as well as a dog, takes a risk entering these waters. The phosphorous pollution has been going on for years.

The good thing about science is that it’s facts, not emotional or dishonest statements that some ignorant people have accused Mr. Novak of making. Being surrounded by septic systems, some that used to overflow just a few years ago after a good rain, is just one of the many factors leading to this pollution source.  Humans as well as animals also risk exposure to parasites that can cause many diseases, among them leptospirosis and girardiasis.

Leptospirosis is prevalent in rural, suburban and urbanized areas, since the bacteria can be present in any stagnant surface water, moist soil and recreational water sources such as ponds and lakes. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin, or through mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and mouth. Exposure increases during the summer and early fall months and periods of high rainfall. While the disease is rarely fatal in humans, it can cause severe illness. The bacteria are passed from cattle and wildlife (deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rats and other rodents through urine) into the water source. There is a canine vaccine, but no human one as yet.

Giardia is the microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis. The parasite is found on surfaces in soil, food or water that has been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. Drinking water and recreational water is the most common method of transmission.

On Labor Day weekend a friend of mine and I walked along Shell Beach, which was an eye opener. It’s really amazing to me that in this day and age, there is no law on Shelter Island requiring owners to pick up after their dogs. The amount of feces along the Shell Beach causeway was not only embarrassing, it was alarming.

Not only is there a liability issue with Fresh Pond, it’s also a health issue. This is the real pollution on the Island, not someone’s “light trespass” from a light bulb!
Shelter Island

Two birds

To the Editor:
Regarding Mr. Trump’s idea of putting a golf course on Plum Island (“Trump shooting for golf at Plum,” October 3): How does he propose getting the golfers to the island? How about helicopters?

Kitchen fires

To the Editor:
It is time for Fire Prevention Week, October 6 through 12, and time for the Shelter Island Fire Department to remind our residents how to prevent kitchen fires.

During the year’s fire safety campaign, we will be spreading the word about the dangers of kitchen fires, most of which result from unattended cooking. We encourage everyone to prevent kitchen fires using the following tips:
• Stay in the kitchen when you are grilling, frying, broiling or boiling food.
• If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the stove.
• When you cook, wear clothing with tight fitting sleeves.
• Keep pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels and anything else that can burn, away from your stove top.

If you need any additional information on fire safety, please call the Shelter Island Fire Department at 749-0184.
Chief, Shelter Island Fire Department