Environmental consultant Rachel Gruzen has been hired by East End towns and villages as the Intermunicipal Agreement Coordinator of the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee.
In that role, Ms. Gruzen will be coordinating efforts between the towns and villages as they work to protect the waters of the Peconic Estuary.
The intermunicipal agreement was established by the Suffolk County Legislature last year to help the towns and villages surrounding the Peconic Estuary hire someone to coordiate efforts to protect the bays, in conjunction with the federal Peconic Estuary Program.
Ms. Gruzen, who is from Amagansett, started her career with The Nature Conservancy and has worked on protecting critical lands within the Peconic Estuary, managed nature preserves and worked on sustainable development and water quality issues.
Along with Southold Town Engineer Michael Collins, she laid out her work to the Southold Town Board at Tuesday’s work session.
“I look forward to serving as a resource to you all,” she said, adding that she’s currently meeting with government agencies throughout the East End to discuss water quality goals.
One of her first goals is to create a Geographic Information Systems clearinghouse to provide nitrogen loading modeling in the Peconic Bay.
Mr. Collins said she also plans to assist in coordinating East End towns whose water bodies are on the DEC’s impaired water body list due to a lack of testing, not to the underlying quality of the water there.
Southold has been at the forefront in questioning the DEC’s methods for testing East End creeks.
“Hopefully it won’t be just our town raising objections to it,” said Mr. Collins.
Ms. Gruzen said her job is to coordinate closely with Alison Branco, who administers the Peconic Estuary Program, to create an inventory of where towns, villages and the county stand on water quality issues.
“Our big target for the fall is when we’re asked to provide public comments to the DEC’s list of impaired waters, we want to provide as accurate data as possible,” she said.