Stony Brook Creek will receive much needed help in mitigating pollution from stormwater runoff after Suffolk lawmakers voted Sept. 4 to contribute $251,526 in funding toward installing new drainage systems, while the Town of Brookhaven will match an additional $251,526, totaling over $500,000 in funds.
The project would disconnect four discharge pipes that had carried stormwater from the Stony Brook community directly to the creek. A new drainage system will be installed where pipes will lead to bioretention and water quality units in an effort to divert runoff water away from the creek.
Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who sponsored the bill in the county legislature, said the plan will improve water quality in the creek that had been polluted for decades from stormwater runoff.
“I’m really glad about this partnership with the town to help invest in Stony Brook Creek and improve its water quality,” she said. “We should be doing all we can to protect our intricate water bodies.”
Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, said the plan is a positive step forward in cleaning the creek.
“We are very pleased that these funds were approved, and we are looking forward to working with the county and town [on this project].”
Rocchio also mentioned the creek’s importance in Stony Brook’s history, saying the original logo of Stony Brook University was based on the water body.
Due to decades of stormwater runoff and silt being deposited into the creek, it has led to overgrown vegetation like phragmites. The invasive species plant has been known to choke many waterways on Long Island. In Stony Brook Creek, the debris caused by the phragmites has created silt buildup, which in turn has caused flooding along the waterway.
Another issue is when the creek overflows, water has been found to go into the Stony Grist Mill, which was built in 1751 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The continual water flow has caused damage to the lower parts of the structure.
In August Suffolk County awarded the organization a $10,750 grant that will be used for a program to remove 12,000 square feet of phragmites from the shoreline of the creek. WMHO and Avalon Park & Preserve decided to match the grant total. The total cost of the project is $21,500.
The new drainage system will be built through the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department and construction on the project is expected to begin this winter and is scheduled to be completed by summer 2021.