Carmans River Dredging Challenged

Defend H2O, a Sag Harbor-based environmental group, said in its latest release that they plan to sue the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County and other entities over a dredging project on the environmentally sensitive Carmans River.

Image source: Defend H2O

Defend H2O has provided formal Notice of Intent to Sue the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, Central Pine Barrens Commission and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for violations of federal and state law – U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA), NYSDEC water quality protection standards, State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve Act, including:

  • Failure of Town/County to obtain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dredge and fill permit;
  • Failure of Town/County to comply with SEQRA by adopting improper and deficient environmental impact review;
  • Failure of Commission to comply with Environmental Conservation Law Article 57 requiring Commission to declare this as a development project;
  • Failure of NYDEC to comply with water quality protection standards.

“The lower Yaphank impoundment dredging project is a misguided plan to drain and dredge the 23-acre artificial impoundment of the Carmans River in an effort to control aquatic invasive plant growth. With the impoundment spanning historic wetlands, excavation by heavy equipment as prescribed in the plan is not possible as was indicated in the County’s feasibility study,” they stated in its announcement.

Phase I of the project (drawdown of impoundment) started in August 2018, but was soon halted by NYSDEC because of the Town/County failure to implement required measures resulting in the discharge of turbidity (sediment) into the Carmans River.

This negligence resulted in significant environmental damage to stream habitat affecting native brook trout spawning, said Defend H2O.

Phase II, dredging approximately 66,000 cubic yards of bottomland is currently pending.

According to Defend H2O, if the project proceeds historic wetlands will be obliterated and further environmental damage will result.