Our Village is a member of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, but you may not be fully aware of what the Committee is or what it does. In 1995, the nine local governments around Hempstead Harbor formed the first of the “protection committees.” Two years later, 13 municipalities around Manhasset Bay did the same (now there are 15 members). Today, nearly every major harbor or bay along Long Island has done the same.
The idea was simple: since pollutants know no boundary and since no one municipality can solve the water quality issues of the Bay on its own, it made sense to tackle them together. Larger municipalities (County and Towns) can bring certain resources to the table and smaller municipalities (Villages) can help with local knowledge.
It also made sense economically. Having one part-time Director to carry out public education; coordinate water monitoring and beach clean-ups; follow legislation; write and manage grants; develop training programs; serve on regional and local advisory committees; and advise municipalities on new technologies and developments allowed each municipality to improve water quality at minimal cost. This made even more sense once New York State began mandating many of these activities under its stormwater permit regulations.
Much progress has been made since the 1990s. Wetland areas have been restored; harbor trails have been constructed; waterfront zoning has been implemented in many areas; and wildlife has returned including bottlenose dolphins; beluga and humpback whales; bald eagles; Peregrine falcons; diamondback terrapins; and others.
Still more needs to be done, but we have a blueprint for success. Our Village, as well as the Town of North Hempstead and the other 12 Villages in Manhasset Bay’s watershed (the area of land that drains into the Bay), recently signed the 2015 Manhasset Bay Protection Committee Inter-Municipal Agreement, which will keep the Committee functioning and moving forward for another five years. You can find more information about the Committee on its website at http://www.manhassetbayprotectioncommittee.org.