Zoom Presentation: Restoring the Health of Sagg Pond

December 21, 2020
Water Quality

In 2019, Stony Brook University’s Dr. Christopher Gobler and the Trust launched a study to understand the root cause of the blue-green algal blooms occurring in Sagg Pond. The research from this 4-year project will help the Southampton Town Trustees prepare a Sagg Pond Revitalization and Management Plan. Private funds totaling $224,000 was raised to initiate the study, primarily from neighbors in the Sagg Pond Watershed. Southampton Town and the Town Trustees have committed an additional $112,000 to the effort.

The preliminary findings of Dr. Gobler’s research have confirmed that the root cause behind harmful algal blooms in Sagg Pond is an over abundance of nitrogen in the water. The likely sources of nitrogen include fertilizers from farms and lawns as well as septic systems. This past summer, Dr. Gobler and his team installed oyster cages in the pond to see if these native filter feeders can survive and remove excess nitrogen from the water as one of many remediation strategies. Cornell Cooperative Extension will conduct more research in 2021 to pinpoint the locations of nitrogen-rich groundwater flowing into the pond and potential remediation methods, including the use of Permeable Reactive Barriers (PRB) in specific locations to filter out nitrogen before it reaches the pond. 

Dr. Gobler and his team have also sought to understand the source of pathogenic bacteria in Sagg Pond. Through 2019, the Gobler team used microbial source tracking to identify genes originating from humans, dogs (and other small mammals), deer, and birds. They found that the major source of fecal contamination came from dogs and small mammals, most likely carried to the pond via surface runoff. 

The preliminary findings of Dr. Gobler’s research were discussed during a Zoom presentation hosted by the Trust for residents within the Sagg Pond Watershed. Watch the presentation below. 

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