We have now over 2500 people in our Facebook Group Save The Great South Bay. Almost every day, someone posts something essential, informative, and …
Many of us (about 35 based on RSVPs, seeing people there) attended "Sandy's Silver Lining," A Public Forum on The Breach, held at Bellport Middle School on the 21st between 9:30 - 12:00. The response was strong even though it was the last shopping weekend before Christmas; this issue is still front and center for us, and so about 200 showed in total. Thomas Bruckner should be singled out as having done a marvelous job assembling the panel, and in the presentation, with informative segues between speakers where he showed pics and video from his some 30 trips to the breach / inlet. He's a natural MC. The sound system was out of whack, but we will get this fixed for next time, for yes, there will be next times, as what Commissioner Soller had to say make clear.
Come to Bellport Middle School 35 Kreamer Street on Saturday December 21st between 9:30 and 12:00 and hear how the breach has helped change Bellport Bay. A panel of scientific experts will discuss changes in water quality and clarity, and how here at least The Great South Bay has begun to rebound, with fish, shellfish and eelgrass making a local comeback. Questions from the public welcome.
Here is Will James, author of On Long Island Coast, An Unexpected Gift From Hurricane Sandy, which appeared recently in The Atlantic Magazine, on The Brian Lehrer Show 11-18-13 speaking about the breach / New Inlet on Fire Island has helped to revitalize the eastern part of the bay. He also notes that science has shown that the breach has not increased flooding in the bay.
While Will James depicts the issue of the breach / New Inlet as an ongoing conflict, with a decision in the balance, with the environmentalists pitted against the home owners, a year on post Sandy I'd have to say that the debate over the breach is pretty much over. The public has spoken. Emails, phone calls, public meetings. Many meetings with politicians and policy makers, dozens of environmental organizations working together in support of science and the case for leaving the breach alone. We stand with our flooded neighbors, and want to see them get the help they need quickly, with the money spent wisely and the work done well. At this point, the vast majority understand that spending $20 million to plug the breach would provide absolutely no protection from the next big storm.
The article's main proponent for closing the breach is Aram Terchunian, who is described in the article as "Long Island coastal geologist who has worked as a consultant on other breach-closure projects." He is also Founder and CEO of First Coastal, a firm that has made a lot of money on Long Island over the years pushing sand around. He refers to the breach as "a giant hole" must be plugged. To quote Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Sandy knocked Fire Island 75 feet north. It took with it 52% of Fire Island's sand. The water's coming, and spending $20 million so that a contractor fills it in (at great environmental damage to what is now by far the healthiest part of the The Great South Bay) is pure folly, and most people -- scientists and the general public -- now know that. He says "its not rocket science" to conclude filling the breach would mitigate flooding, but as he is the lone voice making the argument to close it, arrayed against a number of marine scientists with years of data at their disposal, one must ask him what kind of science he is practicing and where his data is.
The intrepid Michael Busch of Great South Bay Images (Facebook: GSB Images) unearthed these dramatic shots of Sandy as it hit Bellport Bay and …
As we began to learn about the breach, how barrier beaches in fact behave and evolve, and began to see how it was actually a lifeline for an otherwise dying bay, saw that it was flushing Bellport Bay especially, and bringing back the bay we knew, we began to use the term 'breach' ironically. "Life's a Breach!" reads one bumper sticker. Against all the hysteria leveled at it, people posted 'The Breach ate my baby!,' or 'The Breach cheats at golf,' or 'The Breach stole my woman!" We will be having a Breach Party this Saturday in fact, keeping with the spirit of this.
It has become the reflexive habit of news organizations to frame every news item as a conflict, a controversy. Without that, there is no story. You could be in a lecture hall for two and a half hours, listen to a panel, then have public statements from a crowd of 600. The one person who stands up to say that the breach must be closed because his apartment complex was flooded this winter is the person how gets surrounded by microphones. That's exactly what happened in March at a Town Hall in Bellport about The New Inlet. Nearly unanimous support after 2 1/2 hours, but I had reporters actually say to me, 'where's the conflict/story in that?' When we wade into public policy debates, where the science most matters, it is truly corrosive to science and civic life to see this happen.
DAMAGING BROWN TIDE SPREADS ACROSS GREAT SOUTH BAY
June rains kick starts event; Presence of The New Inlet keeps levels lower in Eastern Bay
Stony Brook, NY, July 8th 2013 – An intense and damaging brown tide has emerged across much of Great South Bay. Monitoring by The Gobler Laboratory of Stony Brook University has revealed that a brown tide developed in late June in western Great South Bay and has intensified and spread east since. Abundances of the brown tide organism were recorded at more than 1,000,000 cells per milliliter in western Great South Bay as of July 2nd in the region between the Robert Moses Bridge and Islip. Densities declined to less than 100,000 cells per milliliter within eastern Great South Bay. Densities above 100,000 cells per milliliter can be harmful to marine life. This marks the first summer brown tide in Great South Bay since 2008.
That's at least what fisherman and boatsman Peter Curto had to say, and he has the pictures to prove it:
Sez “Surf FireIsland”: “Epic fluke fishing happening in the bay right now. Thanks to new inlet for making the bay full of life again!” …
Seagrant ( a lot more on them below, from their site), offers an overview of the two most important topics affecting The Great South Bay and the Western Bays -- The Breach / New Inlet, and The Crippling of The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant By Hurricane Sandy. Here is a national marine science non-profit with a strong local presence offering their views on both these issues as part of a Post Sandy assessment of marine conditions post Sandy and what our policy should be regarding them. One's a story of dirty water being flushed out (The Breach), the other a story of dirty water pouring in (The crippled Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant). In both cases, it is crucial that as we rebuild we make wise, informed choices. As the Breach / New Inlet is flushing the Eastern Great South Bay while revitalizing it and lowering the brown algae count to perhaps 1/100th of what we are seeing in Moriches and Shinnecock Bay, we need to keep The New Inlet open -- or to put it another way, prevent it from being closed through political pressure.