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Menantic Association follows Fresh Pond initiatives

While the Fresh Pond Neighbors Association awaits a report in October expected to offer potential solutions to water quality issues, its efforts have spawned a new group, the Menantic Creek Keepers of neighbors around that body of water who have been seeing a gray-brown sludge.

Peter Grand, who launched the Fresh Pond Association and functions as interim chairman of the Town Water Advisory Committee, isn’t surprised by the observation in Menantic Creek. “This is all the same problem,” Mr. Grand said Monday, explaining that they are both part of the same watershed that would also include West Neck Harbor and, most likely, South Ferry Hills.

David Hoffman, the spark behind the Menantic Creek effort, is a health care attorney and clinical ethicist who lectures in bioethics at Columbia University’s Master’s Program in Bioethics.

His plate was already full between work and family, he said, but initiated the effort “at least to get the ball rolling,” he added on Monday.

Kayaking Menantic Creek, Mr. Hoffman observed dozens of small, dead fish on the north end, and said Mr. Grand told him that was the result of a lack of oxygen in the water.

He described Mr. Grand’s work as “inspiring.” He agrees with Mr. Grand’s statement that Fresh Pond is the aquifer and Mr. Hoffman embraces the concept that the entire Island needs to be involved in the effort to improve water quality.

Mr. Grand, another man with a full plate, is hoping more neighborhood groups will get involved to be concerned with bodies of water he believes need attention. He would like to see a large group formed throughout the Island to embrace the needs, recognizing that just as the Fresh Pond Association has been a private-public partnership with the Town, a similar effort on a wider basis is necessary.

Lombardo Associates, a Manhattan-based environmental consulting and engineering firm specializing in solutions to water and wastewater management problems, is in the process of completing a report on Fresh Pond. Mr. Grand expects the report will offer “several competitive solutions” to eliminate algal blooms and reduce nitrogen content in the watershed.

He agrees with Town Engineer Joe Finora that an infrastructure serving the Island is needed to protect drinking water from not just nitrogen but other pollutants.

Recently, Mr. Hoffman, his friend David Honig and Mr. Hoffman’s family members, kayaked the area distributing information to neighbors around Menantic Creek to try to enlist their cooperation in forming the nascent Keepers group. He has heard from 10 to 12 others around the creek expressing interest and expects that number to grow.

Mr. Hoffman is aware the Fresh Pond Association contributed money to help pay for the Lombardo study, which also has been partially paid for by a grant and money from the Water Quality Improvement Projects fund.

He hopes that neighbors will be able to contribute some money for rudimentary steps, but doesn’t want to condition participation on the ability to pay. Their energy and cooperation is what’s important at this stage, he said.