To Trustee and water quality expert John Bredemeyer, West Creek was always one of the most pristine bodies of water in town.
But the shallow picturesque creek sandwiched between Cutchogue and New Suffolk was recently downgraded from year-round to seasonal shellfishing due to high bacterial counts. this past Saturday, Bredemeyer explained to a room full of local residents some of the reasons why the water has become so polluted.
“I never thought there would be a shellfishing closure here,” he said. “But after analyzing the bacterial counts, we’ve come to find out that the closure here was due to rainfall.”
Using modern testing methods, Bredemeyer, who started his career with Suffolk County Health doing water testing in the mid-1970s, said that animal waste — especially that from winter fowl in February and March — from an estuary to the north of the creek is to blame for the high bacterial levels. He added that he and his team of scientists are comparing the pollution of West Creek to that of Wickham Creek, located to the northeast of West Creek.
“The data at Wickham Creek indicates that its pollution is not caused by rainfall but a runoff-driven system,” he said. “To properly sample a shallow water body like West Creek is extremely difficult, but hopefully we can come up with different kinds of questions and solutions.”
At a January Southold Town Board meeting, Bredemeyer had said that the suggesting that dog owners were not properly picking up after their dogs.
“Literally leavings of one or two animals at the ramp on Grathwohl Road can instantly contaminate acres of water,” Bredemeyer had said.
At last weekend’s meeting, Town Trustee Dave Bergen added that West Creek was high on the list for dredging this winter to increase flow and that he’d like to see the county work on Wickham Creek as well.
“It’s a different situation at Wickham, because a pipe had collapsed and directly discharged town runoff into the creek,” he said. “Of course, we’re at the mercy of the county as far as dredging goes.”