The town highway department started work recently on a stormwater project that could improve water quality in the Long Island Sound and prevent erosion on a troubled bluff that has homes sitting on top of it.
Brookhaven Town officials hope a new recharge basin near the intersection of Amagansett and Shore drives in Sound Beach, once completed, will collect stormwater runoff from surrounding roads and thus reduce the amount discharging onto nearby Pickwick Beach and into the Sound. The decreased flow of runoff onto the beach would relieve pressure on the bluff there, which has dangerously eroded in recent years.
The recharge basin will be located at the town’s parking lot for the beach. In late 2013, the town bought property — which had previously served as an easement — adjacent to its lot for the purpose of constructing the sump. Earlier that year, the town finished the first phase of its stormwater mitigation project in the area, repairing an outfall pipe that broke during Hurricane Sandy and filling in the bluff with more than 2,000 cubic yards of fill to stabilize it and rebuild its slope.
The bluff had already eroded to a degree, but the hurricane created a 40-foot drop-off at the site and residents at the top of the bluff were worried about safety.
Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said the work on the both bluff and the pipe were not meant to be the end of the project — the end goal was a recharge basin that would take the erosion pressure off the bluff.
“It was just a Band-Aid so the bluff didn’t erode any further,” he said in a phone interview.
Excavation on the sump has already begun, Losquadro said, and he expects the project to take at least another two months — possibly three if the weather does not cooperate.
The sump has other benefits, from both an environmental and a maintenance standpoint.
When water flows through the streets during rainfall, it picks up and carries dirt, bacteria and other pollutants with it. That contaminated water eventually drains into bodies of water like the Sound in some places. The recharge basin will filter the water naturally instead.
“Wherever we can, we don’t want water draining into the Long Island Sound,” Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) explained when the town was acquiring property for the recharge basin. “We want it to drain into the sump.”
In a phone interview Tuesday, Bonner said the project would save the town money in the long run, as there would be fewer erosion costs in the area.
Losquadro said the basin would also be “much less labor-intensive,” because the highway department will only have to clean it out about once every decade.
It can also hold much more water than a storm drain — the highway superintendent said storm drains can hold a couple of inches of water while the sump can take at least 8 inches, “which is an enormous rainfall.”