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Fresh Pond

Dear Rick:

Ever since a combination of Hurricane Gloria and the '92 Nor'easter permanently altered its drainage channel, Fresh Pond, located between Oak Hills and Edwards here in Calverton, has back-flooded every spring, with the flooding sometimes extending into the summer months. This year has been the worst in the 21-plus years that I've lived in this area, with Beach Way, a road with beach houses along both sides of it branching off of Edwards Avenue, being flooded for well over a month before receding somewhat last week! For the first time since I've lived here, the back flooding consisted of a moving stream flowing on the road and flooding out a beach house that had never been back-flooded in the past. The situation is getting worse ever year!

Before Gloria, the drainage channel (known as Fresh Pond Creek) was about 20 feet wide, four to six feet deep, and flowed into the Sound more or less perpendicular to the beach. Since those two storms blocked the channel however, the creek has flowed parallel to the beach and has regularly been inundated with sand even by moderate storms! Even worse, up until 1992, alewife, the bottom of the fish food chain in the Sound, used to spawn in the pond/marsh providing food not only for game fish but also attracting hundreds of waterfowl to the area! Now, very few alewife spawn there, mostly in the Creek itself, because there is an old dike that acts as a dam at the head of the current channel and phragmites have so interwoven their roots that even fish as small as the alewife can no longer leave the creek to find holes in the dike to swim through! At most, a few dozen wildfowl are in the pond at any given time now, versus the hundreds that were there before 1992!

In the last 14 years the DEC, which has jurisdiction down there, has dredged the channel twice. However, for some screwed-up reason, they haven't restored the pre-1992 channel, instead dredging out the new channel parallel to the beach. The last time they did so, about two years ago, they stopped just short of the old dike for some reason. A blind man could see that the dam acts as a dam there, but I suppose that the work crew had a job order to just go so far irregardless of conditions, and that's as far as they went!

The time has come to once again dredge out the outlet channel for Fresh Pond, and not just to relieve the flooding down there! Ideally, they should re-establish the pre-1992 channel, bit barring that, I sure hope that they go through the old dike this time! By doing so they will not only relieve the flooding long-term, but will also allow the alewife to return in much larger numbers, in turn attracting large numbers of waterfowl, plus it would once again allow salt water into the marsh at high tide to reverse the choking-off effects of the phragmites! If they don't do something soon, within a few years there won't be a pond/marsh to save, the area being totally choked with phragmites! Hopefully, someone connected with marsh restoration will read this and look into the problem.

April 18, 2006

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