September 2, 2020

Suffolk lawmakers set to vote on requiring advanced septic systems for new construction

By Denise Civiletti - Sep 2, 2020, 5:43 pm
Riverhead Local

New homes built in unsewered areas of Suffolk County next year will be required to have innovative nitrogen-reducing wastewater systems rather than traditional septic systems as of next July, if a proposed amendment to the Sanitary Code is approved by county legislators.

The proposed code change will also require the installation of an advanced wastewater system for "other construction" projects — condominiums, two-family and mutifamily housing and commercial or industrial centers. The new systems will also be required for expansion of single-family or other construction projects where the expansion requires addition to or modification of sewage disposal facilities. The requirement is also triggered for other construction projects where a change of use requires the installation of new sewage disposal facilities or increased capacity of existing sewage disposal facilities.

The code change was unanimously approved by the county Board of Health in July.

On Monday, the county legislature's Environment, Parks and Agriculture Committee voted to send the measure to the full legislature without recommendation.

Introductory Resolution 1643, adopting the changes to the county's sanitary code, will be on the agenda of the legislature's Wednesday, Sept. 9 general meeting.

The code amendment aims to address nitrogen pollution in Suffolk's groundwater and surface waters by requiring advanced onsite septic systems that remove nitrogen from wastewater before it is discharged to groundwater.

The proposal is supported by a host of environmental advocacy groups, including Group for the East End, New York League of Conservation Voters, The Nature Conservancy, Peconic Baykeeper, Save the Sound, Peconic Estuary Partnership and Defend H20.

It is also supported by the Long Island Builders Institute, but with its request to delay the effective date of of the new requirement and a focus on priority areas. LIBI also recommended the county require an upgrade to advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems on property transfer — but the current proposal does not require that.

County officials estimate that there are more than 380,000 onsite wastewater systems in Suffolk, with more than 252,500 of them predating the requirement for a septic tank.

The cost of an innovative onsite system is roughly $18,000 "on average," according to North Fork Legislator Al Krupski.

The county just authorized $3.7 million in grant money for the purchase and installation of these systems, Krupski said.

Editor's note: this article was amended post-publication to clarify the application of the proposed sanitary code changes, which will affect new construction of condominiums, two-family and multifamily housing as well as commercial and industrial centers and, under some circumstances, additions to existing single-family homes and commercial projects.

May 28, 2020

Dr. Gobler's annual State of the Bays

April 23, 2020

Researchers: Dissolved Oxygen and pH Policy Leave Fisheries at Risk
News Stonybrook

Stony Brook University's Christopher J. Gobler, Endowed Chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation, and Stephen J. Tomasetti, Science Teaching and Research to Inform Decisions (STRIDE) fellow, consider accumulating scientific evidence on the harmful effects of coastal hypoxia (low oxygen) and acidification (decreasing pH, increasing acidity) in coastal ecosystems in the April 24 issue of the journal Science.

In a Policy Forum, Dissolved oxygen and pH criteria leave fisheries at risk, the scientists suggest approaches that would address current policy shortfalls and facilitate improved protection of aquatic life.

During the past two decades, scientists have learned how hypoxia and acidification can act and interact to harm marine organisms. Hundreds of low oxygen or dead zones have been identified across the globe. Ocean acidification, a process resulting from the continued buildup of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide in the oceans, has been discovered. And yet, regulation of dissolved oxygen (DO) and pH in coastal waters has remained unchanged.

The Clean Water Act aims to restore and protect the waters of the United States from impairment; waters that do not meet state standards are listed as impaired, a designation that can initiate critical remediation actions. According to Dr. Gobler, the current saltwater DO and pH criteria of many states allow for harmful conditions to persist without amelioration. "Our understanding of the dynamics of DO and pH and the effects on marine life have advanced dramatically this century to the point that it is now clear that criteria for pH and DO are likely to leave important marine species vulnerable to harm," he said.

The reduction of DO and pH in coastal waters can individually have adverse effects on aquatic life, however, current regulations do not consider the combined effects of these stressors which are often experienced in combination and can be more severe than each stressor individually. Not until the scientific field of ocean acidification had been established, had their combined effects been broadly considered.

June 22, 2019

Annual Eelgrass Restoration Event

Join us on June 22nd for our Annual Eelgrass Restoration Event at the Stony Brook Marine Station! Bring the family to this hands-on educational experience. You'll get to learn all about eelgrass, and how we use it to restore our beautiful bay! There will be games, raffles, and talks on the promising signs of our restoration success! The event will start at 10 am and run for about 2 hours. Rain or shine! If you have a large group coming, please let us know in advance (if possible) so that we can prepare accordingly. Read more about the event on our Event Page:

Eelgreass flyer

April 30, 2019

Stony Brook researchers hope sugar kelp turns into next specialty crop
Cultivating the seaweed could have environmental, nutritional and financial benefits, university researchers and Long Island farmers said, after harvesting sugar kelp grown in Moriches Bay.

By David M. Schwartz, Newsday

Bobbing on a boat above the Great Gun Shellfish Co. farm in Moriches Bay, owner Paul McCormick tucked a slice of freshly harvested sugar kelp under a just-shucked oyster and slurped in the combo.

Farming seaweed alongside bivalves might be the future of aquaculture on Long Island.

In what they called a promising experiment, Stony Brook University researchers and local farmers grew an impressive crop of sugar kelp during the winter and spring in shallow bay waters, giving hope the emerging specialty crop could become a financial boost to Long Island's burgeoning aquaculture industry while improving water quality.

The 4-foot-long blades of the brownish-green seaweed, ruffled like lasagna noodles and grown on 100-foot strings in Moriches Bay, exceeded previous known growth rates for experiments in the Northeast, according to Stony Brook researchers.

"Conventional wisdom is you grow it in deep water because you don't want it to touch the bottom," said Michael Doall, bivalve restoration and aquaculture specialist at Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. "This has got the potential to usher in a new form of aqualuture. ... It's very, very exciting."

Sugar kelp is used in seaweed salads, sushi and soup, and as a thickener or stabilizer in items such as pudding and ice cream. It also can be dried and powdered for smoothies for its nutrients. For its health benefits and potential among foodies, backers have called sugar kelp "the new kale."

It also can be plucked and eaten fresh from the water. Doall chewed on a piece Thursday at McCormick's farm before he and McCormick harvested a bushel.

"The salt hits you right away, then there's a nuttiness if you chew it. There's a texture — I love the crunch," he said. "You'd think seaweed would be slimy, and not crunchy."

Long Island's approximately 36 oyster farms are almost exclusively in shallow waters, Stony Brook professor Chris Gobler said, which makes the test case so exciting.

If the successful cultivation can be repeated and expanded in shallow waters, kelp farming would allow oyster farmers to diversify their crops, particularly because the plants grow in the colder months.

"Kelp dovetails perfectly with the oyster season," said McCormick, whose underwater farm covers 3.67 acres in East Moriches and is leased from the Town of Brookhaven. "Growing kelp offers the opportunity to supplement income at a challenging time of year."

While oysters are harvested year-round, activity slows in the wintertime. Also, "If you're just growing one crop, and that kind of crop has a problem, you're that much more vulnerable," he said.

Sugar kelp, planted in November or December, is typically harvested in early June.

While the kelp grown as part of this program is for research purposes and not commercial sale, New England farmers have sold fresh premier baby leaf kelp directly to restaurants for up to $20 a pound, McCormick said. In other instances, distributors buying wholesale would pay $1 a pound.

In four months, the Moriches locations got 400 pounds of kelp on a 100-foot line. In some mockup plans, McCormick and Doall imagine 16 tons of kelp on a one-acre plot.

So far, though, there's no local Long Island sugar kelp available on store shelves.

"There's two parts of the study, one to see if we can grow the kelp and techniques to grow it in shallow water. Step two is to grow a market for it. It's only a viable crop if you can sell it," Doall said, adding he was in discussions with chefs and dealing with a seafood processor.

Cultivating the native seaweed also has environmental benefits. The crop sequesters nitrogen and phosphorous, and also captures carbon dioxide. Higher levels of carbon dioxide can lead to the acidification of waters, which can harm shellfish production, Gobler said.

"We think the aquaculture of seaweeds represents another important tool for improving water quality on Long Island," he said. About 3 percent of the kelp is nitrogen.

The pilot study, paid for with a $100,000 two-year grant from the nonprofit New York Farm Viability Institute, put commercial-style kelp seed lines in three places this year. Along with Moriches Bay, which can get as shallow as one foot deep, there was a site in the Great South Bay on Town of Islip-leased land, and another in the Long Island Sound outside Mount Sinai Harbor, which was more than 20 feet deep.

At the Long Island Sound site, a more typical location for kelp farming, the growth has been slower — about two feet long — but has taken off in the last two to three weeks. At the Great South Bay, the kelp started to grow, and then disappeared.

Doall said he hopes to expand the sites next year, including on land leased under Suffolk County's aquaculture program, where he couldn't get an agreement this year.

Sarah Lansdale, Suffolk County's director of planning, said "we're hopeful that in partnership with New York State DEC that this important pilot can get under way."

The state Department of Environmental Conservation in a statement said commercial kelp farming isn't permitted yet in New York, but is allowed on a pilot basis.

A sugar kelp study done from December 2016 into 2017 in the Peconic Estuary was less successful. Christopher Pickerell, marine program director for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, said based on the advice and experience of others, they avoided working in shallow waters, or where the kelp would touch the bottom.

"If this most recent work is repeatable, it really would really be a game changer," Pickerell said in an email.

The story on Newsday:


April 5, 2019

"State of the Bays Symposium and Seminar"
Presented by Christopher Gobler, Ph.D. of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

April 5, 2019, 7:30pm

Water is at the core of the Long Island existence. We rely on groundwater to drink. That same groundwater is the primary source of freshwater and nitrogen to our coastal ecosystems. We are surrounded by water within which we swim, boat, and recreate. Recent trends in water quality on Long Island have been troublesome. Toxic chemicals are contaminating drinking water supplies. Nitrogen levels in groundwater have risen by more than 60% in recent decades and coastal ecosystems have suffered. Since the late twentieth century, aerial coverage of critical marine habitats on Long Island such as eelgrass and salt marshes have declined by up to 80% and Long Island's top shellfisheries have declined by up to 90%. In 2018, many of the factors driving these negative trajectories in shellfish and habitats were persistent problems. Outbreaks of brown tides, rust tides, paralytic shellfish poison, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, hypoxia, and acidification were documented and are all occurrences directly and indirectly linked to excessive nitrogen loading. Emerging research suggests climate change is likely to significantly worsen all of these impairments in the near future, meaning significant and immediate actions are needed to mitigate these events. Thankfully, multiple solutions to water quality impairments are emerging. 'In the water' remediation approach involving bivalves and seaweeds are showing promise for locally mitigating nitrogen loads and algal blooms. The New York State Shellfish Restoration Program will significantly expand these efforts in the coming years. The New York State Clean Water Technology Center at Stony Brook University has identified cost-effective technologies to dramatically reduce nitrogen loads from individual homes and to coastal water bodies. Implementation of such technologies coupled with 'in the water' solutions will be required to reverse the decadal negative trends in water quality and fisheries.

April 5 lecture


Dec 16, 2018

Study: Blue crab larvae harmed by low oxygen, high acidity

Stony Brook University researchers simulated conditions in degraded estuaries to assess the effects on larval crabs and found they died at increased rates.

By David M. Schwartz
Updated December 16, 2018 6:00 AM

Blue crab larvae died at greater rates in waters with higher acidity and lower oxygen levels — conditions likely to intensify with climate change and increased nitrogen, according to a new study by Stony Brook University researchers.

While the impacts of low oxygen on marine life have been studied, the research is the first to assess the consequences of these two stressors on larval crabs, the authors said. High acidity, or low pH, and low oxygen, known as hypoxia, are worst in summer, when blue crabs are breeding, according to the peer-reviewed paper published in the online journal PLOS One.

The effects could offset a predicted boon for Long Island's blue crab population caused by warming waters, authors said.

The Stony Brook study used egg-carrying female crabs collected in Shinnecock Bay and shipped from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and subjected the larvae to pH and oxygen levels that could be found in back bays.

"We wanted to simulate real-world conditions in degraded estuaries," said lead author Stephen Tomasetti, a doctoral student at the university's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

The tasty crustaceans, also known as blue claw crabs, are found up and down the East Coast, including in the Island's bays and harbors. From 2010 through 2016, commercial fishermen in the United States had an annual catch worth at least $175 million, according to federal statistics cited in the paper.

The research was conducted in the lab of Christopher Gobler, a professor in the school. He and students Brooke Morrell and Lucas Merlo were co-authors.

Article source:

Dec 10, 2018

Endowed Professorship Boosts SBU's Conservation Leadership
Elliot Olshansky

With more than 100 marine species recorded as extinct — primarily due to overfishing — and more than 100 million tons of fish taken out of the water each year, our oceans and the animals that call them home are badly in need of protection.

That's why the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance (OSA) is leading the charge to conserve at least 10 percent of the world's marine and coastal areas by 2020 and to ensure that ocean protection is effective and durable. It's also why the Alliance is investing in the work of Stony Brook University professor Ellen Pikitch — one of the world's leading experts in ocean conservation.

In recognition of her proven conservation track record and current portfolio of promising research, they've created the Endowed Professorship in Ocean Conservation Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (SoMAS). As the inaugural holder of the position, Pikitch will expand her transformational work while educating the next generation of leaders in ocean conservation.

"From the moment I met Dr. Pikitch in 2008, she has approached her role as a change agent with the extraordinary dedication and the highest scientific standards," said Rosalind Walrath, the Alliance's treasurer and a member of the Dean's Council at Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. "Ellen is a truly powerful asset to the cause of ocean conservation."

Pikitch, of course, is no stranger to effective advocacy based on impactful research. By the time she arrived at Stony Brook in 2008, her work had led to the passage of the U.S. Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, the international ban on the trade of wild sturgeon caviar and the listing of beluga sturgeon as threatened with extinction under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The research behind these policies originated from the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science (IOCS), which she established at the University of Miami in 2003 and relocated to Stony Brook when she joined the faculty in 2008.

"Ellen Pikitch's track record of achievement in fisheries science and ocean conservation speaks for itself," said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. "The Endowed Professorship of Ocean Conservation Science serves to elevate her voice, enhancing the profile of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, and that of Stony Brook University as a whole."

"Endowed professorships help universities attract and retain the best scholars and researchers in their fields," added Paul Shepson, dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. "Having Ellen Pikitch as the inaugural Endowed Professor in Ocean Conservation Science makes a powerful statement about the contributions that we aspire to make at Stony Brook, both to science and to the welfare of our planet."

For her part, Pikitch recognizes the opportunities created by an endowed professorship — supported by an anonymous donor in addition to OSA — which will empower her to follow her instincts in pursuit of further advances.

"I am truly grateful to the donors, including the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, whose philanthropy has made this endowed professorship possible," Pikitch said. "The funding of an endowed professorship makes it possible to act quickly when inspiration strikes, and pursue novel solutions with potentially far-reaching significance."

There's also a certain fulfillment in continuing her work at Stony Brook, where the opportunities created for students resonate with Pikitch's own experiences as a first-generation college student who attended the City College of New York tuition-free.

"Stony Brook is a fantastic university for the sciences," Pikitch said, "and it's a public institution. Without public support, I wouldn't have even been able to go to college, and knowing that students at Stony Brook have similar opportunities is one more reason that I am so proud to continue my work here."

As she blends her work to protect the world's oceans with the education of future fisheries and conservation scientists at Stony Brook, Pikitch is making an impact that will be felt for generations to come.

Article source:

September 21, 2018

We are very proud to announce that by attending the Third Annual Blue Island Oyster Festival, hosted by Blue Island Oysters, we have doubled the amount of shell collected through our Shell Recycling Program so far! We had a blast at the event... We enjoyed great music, tasty oysters, and spread the word about our restoration efforts! Even NYC's Naked Cowboy supported our program. We can't wait to attend next year! Shell Yeah!!

Oyster 2018

2018 Oyster

September 15, 2018

Join Us for the Blue Island Oyster Festival

This Saturday at 12pm, ShiRP will be attending the Blue Island Oyster Festival to collect shell for our Shell Recycling Program. This is the second year we have partnered with Blue Island Oysters, and we could not be more excited! Be on the lookout for our Info-booth, our volunteers, and our "Shell Only" buckets! As mentioned in our last newsletter, all collected shell will be used to create oyster reefs in Shinnecock Bay. We hope to see you there!

Click HERE to buy tickets.

2018 Blue Island Oyster Festival

June 1, 2018

Riverhead brewery pledges 1 percent of sales to support the environment

Moustache Brewing Co. has joined 1% for the Planet, a global philanthropic organization supporting environmental causes.

The Riverhead microbrewery is pledging to donate 1 percent of its sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment.

Moustache will today release its first beer brewed for its 1% for the Planet commitment: "Beyond the Shore," which it describes as "a gose brewed with sea salt and coriander." Sales from this release will benefit the Shinnecock Bay Restoration program, the company said in a press release.

"It's important to us to make positive changes in the world around us while inspiring others to do the same," Moustache Brewing Co. said. "Joining 1% For The Planet will allow us to strengthen our commitment to the environment and support the work of our charity partners."

Members of 1% for the Planet commit to supporting approved environmental nonprofit partners by donating the equivalent of 1% of sales through a combination of monetary, in-kind, and approved advertising contributions. Nonprofits are approved based on referrals, track record and environmental focus. There are thousands of approved nonprofits worldwide.

Collectively, 1% for the Planet Members have donated more than $175 million to environmental nonprofits to date.

"We are thrilled to welcome Moustache Brewing Co. to our global network," said Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet.

"Currently, only 3 percent of total philanthropy goes to the environment and only 3 percent of that comes from businesses," Williams said. "We need more business like Moustache Brewing Co. to do its valuable part to increase giving and support on the ground outcomes."

Founded in 2002 today the organization comprises a network of more than 1,400 member businesses, a new and expanding core of hundreds of individual members, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries.

Moustache Brewing Co. was founded in 2012 by husband and wife team, Matthew and Lauri Spitz. They opened their doors at 400 Hallett Avenue in Riverhead in 2014.

See article at the Riverhead Local site.