Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Sponsored by The Riverhead Town Energy Advisory Committee

Riverhead Town Hall
Wednesday January 28th at 7:30 PM

The Public is Welcome to Attend

Clean Air NY is a dynamic collaboration of organizations and individuals in the New York metro area who are taking actions to improve our air quality. This initiative is sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation and Clean Air NY wants to help New Yorkers live better and breathe easier by improving the air quality.

Clean Air NY’s presentation explains the following:

  • Specific travel choices that every individual can make to help improve the air quality on AQAD and year round.
    The causes of poor air quality in the New York metro area and the why we are working to improve it.
  • How the region’s poor air quality affects every New Yorker’s health, especially sensitive groups such as people with asthma, children, and the elderly.
  • Air Quality Action Days (AQAD) are days when the air quality is especially poor in the area and usually occur during the summer months.
  • When an individual, employer, or community organization joins the Clean Air NY network, they receive an e-mail or text message update the day before an AQAD.

    For more information on Clean Air NY, please visit


by Mark Haubner

As the subject of electronic recycling is very large, we're going to narrow this discussion to include Southold and Riverhead Towns' treatment of residential waste PCs and monitors. We will save our discussion of proper disposal of cell phones, TVs, microwaves, toner cartridges and batteries for a later time. Corporate electronic waste disposal also deserves a deeper look and we will search out the local businesses which are making an effort to make a difference by disposing of their many PCs and monitors properly.

It's 2009, and as far as electronic recycling is concerned, we're only slightly further ahead of where we were 15 years ago. A majority of American households now have more than one PC, and with ONE BILLION computers having been sold around the world by 2002 (Gartner Dataquest) and another BILLION at work today, each having an approximate lifespan of 3 years, they're turning to waste at a mind-boggling rate. We simply have to be much more conscientious about our disposal habits starting right now.

Keep in mind that 3-year-old PC may still be of some value to a non-profit organization of your choice—but by the time it reaches 5 years of age, it will be more of a liability than an asset to an organization. So let's focus on unusable PCs and the big, glass, CRT (glass screen) monitors that can’t even be used as boat anchors. Where do they all go? There are plenty of them going to the end of the driveway in residential settings, although many townships across the U.S. are working at un-curbing the flow going to the landfill.

Lead, heavy metals (selenium, chromium, etc.), silicon, PVC and a lot more are incorporated in the motherboard, power supply and various drives in a PC. If they are relegated to the landfill, the toxic metals leach out into the soil and find their way into the aquifer or run off into the bays, rivers or oceans.

When properly recycled, they are either shredded so that the components containing the desirable metals can be pulled out, or they are sent overseas (Pakistan, India, etc.) for people to unsolder the components by hand. (Some years ago these basic components--capacitors, transistors, etc.--were actually found being resold as new to computer manufacturers, leading to a lot of computer failures in the field and a high cost to the manufacturers in the way of customer service calls and parts replacements.)

If you have a Dell, HP, Gateway or Toshiba PC, their websites provide the following:

So what about a person who has the “worthless” 5-year-old PC and CRT (glass screen) monitor, can’t donate it, and doesn’t want to pay to ship it to New Hampshire but wants to dispose of it safely?

If you are a resident of Southold, you can take it to the Transfer Station (town dump).

According to the Town's Waste Management page: Electronic Waste (E-Waste) is now accepted at the Transfer Station daily during normal business hours. Residents may now dispose of their used computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronic trash safely on any regular business day, at no charge. This service is for Southold Town residents ONLY (proof of residency is required).

If you are a resident of Riverhead, you have two choices:

The Town of Riverhead has a S.T.O.P. (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) program during which times (May 30th and Oct 10th, 2009) they will take e-Waste.

If you don’t want to wait until spring you can and don’t mind making the trek to e-Solutions’ (Nick Gerbino, owner) facility at 200 Engineers Road in Hauppauge, they will take PCs and servers free of charge. They are charging only 20 cents per pound for monitors and TVs (about $6.00 for a 15” CRT) in order to maintain a viable commercial enterprise. Here they actually dismantle, shred, test and resell various parts (among other data destruction services) and are not part of the dumping of boatloads of junk on the Third World at all.

It’s hard being conscientious, but we also need to make sure that our elected officials and Town Departments are also working toward solving this huge waste problem at a grassroots level.

For a more in-depth look at this subject, see: the Electronic Industries Alliance's Consumer Education the NationalRecyclingCoalition the New York State environmental agency the International Association of Electronics Recyclers the Rethink Initiative effort


by Hazel Kahan

This article first appeared as an op-ed in The Suffolk Times on Jan. 15, 2009; Reprinted by permission, Times/Review Newspapers Corp.

While the troubled national and global economy affects each Southolder in its own way, it also offers each one of us a role in sustaining our community.

My friends and I have been talking about the things we can do—or have done--to protect our community, regardless of how much we may have suffered (or gained?) in the financial downturn. We think of it as the new community economy, with some of the flavor of the underground economy but living firmly above ground, on home ground.

The unyielding torrent of dire information about the shrinking economy creates in us feelings of scarcity and pessimism, leading us to retreat, to keep ourselves to ourselves, to be less generous and outgoing.

But we don’t have to be like that.

Instead, we can change the lens through which we see things. What money things can we do without money? What if we look at money not as something for hoarding or buying but instead as a form of renewable energy, self-produced and transformative? What, to paraphrase Frosty the Snowman, can we do to let it flow, let it flow, let it flow?

My friends and I found that if we could replace our feelings of scarcity with sufficiency, we could start believing that we actually have enough. We find that our perspective changes once we shift from hoarding to sharing and once we discard the idea of life as a zero sum game in which I can only win if you lose and that your gain must mean my loss.

Here are some of the ways we are trying to build a community economy:

1. Spending as much of our money right here where we live. Almost everything we need is available right here and, if it’s not, maybe we can do without it. And if it’s not exactly what we were looking for, so what? And, of course, we can find things here we couldn’t find anywhere else—and not just in the summer!

2. We take an hour or two to visit locally-owned retailers, dropping in for a chat and finding out how they’re doing or buying something from them, even if we don’t actually need it right then. We can always tuck it away as a gift for later.

3. As factors in local businesses’ cash flow, we try to pay our bills on time, if we can. This helps them which helps us keep our community stable.

4. We raise the question to local fuel companies that have customers on locked-in rates: do you really have to insist on that agreement? What might you gain by reducing your customer-neighbors’ anxiety?

5. If we’re not feeling as financially stressed as a friend or neighbor, we consider asking if we could pay them to do a chore we might otherwise do ourselves. Encouraging money flow through our community will help us all.

6. We look to see what goods and services we can barter with each other. For example, I’ll cut your hair if you help me carry my stuff out of my basement to the dump. Time and energy replace money in the community economy.

7. We’ve thought of buying space in our local media when we have something to announce or celebrate. A weakened media would greatly affect the sustainability of our community.

8. If by good fortune or business sense one of us is presented with a lucrative project, we ask ourselves if we could share some of the work with a less fortunate friend or neighbor. This way more of the ‘lucre’ will flow through more lives. This can’t be a bad thing.

Contributing to Southold’s sustainability by recognizing and building the community economy will, of course, yes, save gas but, more significantly, will help preserve the quality of our town. We look at Riverhead and Patchogue and see how difficult it is to revitalize towns that forgot their people.

Finally, a community economy directly caters to our self-interest by protecting our investments in our own houses. One of us asks: “Who wants to buy a house in a community that looks like a ghost town?”


by Howard Meinke

Across the street from the Cutchogue Post Office is a site of great controversy. Forty-six acres of open land has been proposed for development of an over-55 condominium community known as The Heritage, consisting of 139 units -- each with over 2000 square feet living space plus a swimming pool, clubhouse and various amenities. This project is in an HD (hamlet density) zone, which allows one residence per quarter-acre, and it requires either public water or a sewage disposal system.

Since the SCWA (Suffolk County Water Authority) water map does not show public water at this location it is up to the town to request water if they think it is the best solution. The project’s developer can supply a private sewage plant in the absence of public water.

The surrounding residents are concerned about drastic traffic increases and the likelihood of subsurface pollution contaminating their private wells as well as nearby Wickham’s creek.

The rational for approval of this project by the Suffolk County Health Department (SCHD) is questionable. SCHD has assumed public water to be available. This may or may not come to pass. An argument for tighter scrutiny and realistic regulation appears below.

According to the Environmental Assessment Review of the plan for The Heritage of March 30, 2007, the maximum allowable sewage discharge for this property (if handled by individual septic systems) is 22,625 gallons per day. The original 150-unit proposal for The Heritage discharged just a small bit over the 22,625 gallons allowed and a Chromaglass sewage treatment system was proposed.

The current plan, which calls for 139 units, discharges 21,615 gallons, a very small amount under the maximum limit, and no treatment plant is required. This plan is based on the theory that retirement housing only produces 150 gallons of flow per day while standard housing produces 300 gallons.

Then in July, 2008 the SCHD regulations were changed so that:

Residential units less than 600 sq. ft. produce 100 gallons
Residential units 600 to 1200 sq. ft. produce 150 gallons
Residential units over 1200 sq. ft. produce 300 gallons

The Heritage residences are currently designed to be well over 2,000 sq. ft. per unit.

If you apply the July regulations to the current project;
139 units at 300 gallons - - - 41,700 gallons
Obviously Sewage treatment is required.

The project could support 74 units at the 300 gallon criterion without the necessity of on site sewage treatment.

Obviously, the sewage flow criteria listed above were developed by SCHD in order to protect public health and environmental health. Therefore, as our knowledge is increasing over time it is clear that as new refined regulations are developed, they should immediately be put into effect.

We believe that it is logical to conclude that over time the discharge of maximum levels of concentrated waste could well migrate downstream in the subsurface flow of ground water and pollute wells and pristine water bodies. Previous testimony about the pollution of the Forge River in Brookhaven is case in point. Why risk repeating this disaster?

There are many instances of foreign material in our Southold well water and subsurface water. Fertilizers and pesticides come to mind as does Temik.

Erring on the side of health and the environment is obviously the right direction to go. Our natural assets, like the underground aquifer are easy to pollute and difficult to fix.

Requiring a private sewage treatment for these high density discharge situations should be a “no brainer.” Another alternative would be to allow only the safe, lower density development.

It was suggested at the Town Board meeting on November 5, 2008 that a consultant, an expert in subsurface water flows, the migration of in-ground pollution and etc. might be able to add weight to these ideas. The SEQRA report, financed by the developer, is to be required to include a consultant’s investigation into this problem. The Board members discussed what they see as a pro development, pro public water, and pro sewer plant mentality at the SCHD.

This all gets very complicated as we try to sort out the best mix of development for the HD and HB zones, balancing the ability to achieve affordable housing with economic practicality, human health protection, environmental sensitivity and respect for our Southold’s rural character.

This debate is still raging.

We urge you to attend the Planning Board and Town Board meetings and make your voice heard on this issue. Meeting dates, times and agendas can be found on the town website at