Stormwater remediation
Bob Kessler, Yaphank resident and president of the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes, formed in 2007, stands by a storm drain at the DEC boat ramp by the lower lake.

Photo courtesy of Bob Kessler

Stormwater remediation


It’s been a slow but steady process addressing the health of local waterways, particularly the Yaphank Lakes and the Carmans River, but Legis. Kate Browning secured $750,000 in the recently approved 2015 budget as one solution in tackling their health with stormwater remediation.

According to consulting engineers L.K. McLean Associates, who are designing the project for Suffolk County Department of Public Works, the project will be located along CR 21, Main Street-Yaphank Middle Island Road, for 1.7 miles, connecting to the upper and lower lakes. 

“The design was paid for in the past and is 95 percent complete,” said Browning aide Josh Slaughter. Money came from Fund 477 Water Quality Protection, he added, for the estimated cost of installing the project.

The hoods, traps for catch basins and water-quality structures will be manufactured by Best Management Products Inc. of Lyme, Conn., the study said.

DPW commissioner Gil Anderson said in a statement: “The  project would employ two different types of ‘Best Management Practices’ as outlined by the NYSDEC. The first is to remove as much of the stormwater as possible from entering the lake. To do this, we will install additional leaching basins to reduce the overall stormwater flow into the lake. The remaining stormwater will flow through a treatment basin. There are many manufacturers of treatment basins, however, they all use the same general principals. The unit creates a vortex, by which the water swirls around and the solids settle out of the water. Additionally, there is a weir, which retains grease and oil.”

Anderson did not respond to repeated questions regarding how many storm drains were planned, what specific types would be used, and if those chosen were utilized elsewhere in the Brookhaven Town area.

Bob Kessler, who headed up the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes formed in 2007, got Browning on board in 2008; at the same time, he notified then-county executive Steve Levy.

“We took inventory of the storm drains, including the streets running into both lakes and documented their location and approached Kate Browning. She went to Levy,” Kessler said. Browning received county approval in December 2008 for $200,000 to hire a consultant for the design.

“I know [the county] did some resurfacing and put in some drainage in the area about a year and a half ago,” Kessler said. “I would assume that’s part of it.

The Yaphank Lakes are part of the Carmans River, Kessler said; the upper lake was dammed up in 1739 and the lower lake followed in 1756 for sawmills, he explained.

Kessler, who is also president of the Yaphank Historical Society, said visitors have been flocking into the Swezey-Avey House parking lot on weekends to utilize the upper lake, which it overlooks, since its dredging. While the lower lake is being scheduled next year for dredging via Councilwoman Connie Kepert’s office, who was instrumental for the upper lake’s cleanup in concert with Browning’s efforts, Browning said the remediation was in addition to the project.

“The stormwater runoff doesn’t help the waterways, so this is a clean method,” she said. “All these stormwater projects are about improving water quality and while it’s not part of the dredging, it helps. You can’t do one without the other.”