Sandy and The Breach Four Years On Good day everyone. I am Marshall Brown, President and Co-Founder of Save The Great South Bay. …
The Great South Bay may getting worse in general, year by year, but not around the breach due south of Bellport. There, you will see clean water, fish, birds, seal, fish, mussel beds -- nature resurgent. The National Parks Service is obliged to offer this period of public comment as it prepares its management plan and environmental impact statement for "The Breach." So let's tell them where we stand!
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.
Nice video on The New Inlet/ breach from National Geographic. Got some old time baymen featured. Good job! Nice end to a somber day. …
SCERP -- The Southampton Coastal and Estuarine Research Project -- has just come out with their latest report. Swimmers Rejoice! Water clarity is now such that we can see deeper than 4 feet in the Eastern Bay, which means it is legal and permissible to swim in the bay once more according to New York State guidelines. In fact, we've gone from 3'4" to 4'6" this year, a 35% increase.
Scott Gerber got these magnificent shots of The Old Inlet from his 1946 Piper Cub.
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.
Michael Busch of Bellport takes News12 out to The Old Inlet/Breach to show them how much healthier that part of the bay has become since Sandy created it six months ago -- fluke, sea turtles, seal, osprey, clear waters.
The brown tide bloom in The Great South Bay is massive and its results will be devastating. The New Inlet will mitigate the damage somewhat -- we should be happy it wasn't closed after Sandy! -- but the real problem continues to be the 500,000 septic tanks in Nassau and Suffolk. Scientists are now speculating that the Babylon area was hit hard by this brown tide because the flow of polluted groundwater running into the bay was greatest there. While some of Babylon is on sewers, much of Babylon isn't. After an historically wet June -- we had twice the rain we usually did -- the ground water, now supersaturated, flowed towards the bay, drawing septic tank water with it. Babylon's rivers and streams contribute 30% of the ground water pollution into the bay, as measured by nitrogen content, as it is. A month of flooding rains, predictably, exacerbated the problem.