Watershed Management Plan Protects Economy and Ecology

The Takeaway: Steps to improve watershed health help safeguard area’s tourism and recreation sector.

The Town of Brookhaven in Long Island’s Suffolk County now has a watershed management plan that will support the area’s critical ocean economy while lessening problems stemming from intense development and runoff.

The plan takes aim at Tuthills Creek’s runoff and sediment that flows into Patchogue Bay, harming commercial and recreational shellfishing, with the following recommendations:

  • Monitor creek water quality regularly
  • Improve drainage systems and encourage natural infrastructure
  • Lessen sediment buildup
  • Filter water by seeding oysters near shorelines and purchasing upland open space
  • Reestablish shoreline habitat for osprey, turtles, oysters, and other wildlife
  • Reduce pavement that contributes to runoff
  • Restore compromised public lands

In Suffolk County, where the Town of Brookhaven is located, more than 88 percent of the ocean economy is in the tourism and recreation sector. This sector yearly garners a gross domestic product of $1.3 billion for 2,292 establishments that pay out wages of more than $673 million.

The plan also details potential funding sources. The New York Department of State’s coastal management program helped spearhead the plan through a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant. (2018)

Partners: Nelson Pope & Vorhees, New York Coastal Zone Management Program, Town of Brookhaven