Do Not Close the Breach at Old Inlet
The new inlet at Otis Pike Wilderness Area has demonstrated absolutely no effect on increasing tidal ranges or flooding anywhere on the bay. At the same time it appears to be clearing out the highly polluted water from the bay, giving the hope that we might avoid future algal blooms and give the bay fauna a chance to recover. Closing the inlet has been estimated to cost between $6 million and $15 million, and would likely have to be repeated in the future as a result of increasingly intense winter storms. Closing the inlet is a decision based on fear, not facts; it is expensive, harmful to the environment and will not mitigate flooding.
- Suffolk County Executive
- Suffolk County Legislator
- Commissioner, NYS DEC
As concerned citizens we urge you not to close the inlet at the Otis Pike Wilderness Area on Fire Island, commonly known as Old Inlet. We understand your concern over increased flooding as a result of numerous storms this winter; many of us have experienced flooding and sympathize with our friends and neighbors who are afraid for their property. But there is absolutely no evidence linking the inlet to increased tidal ranges or flooding anywhere on the bay. Flooding has been occurring up and down the East Coast, from Virginia to Massachusetts – it is a regional phenomenon, not a local one.
Estimates for closing the inlet have ranged between $6 million and $15 million. These costs would likely have to be incurred again in the future as increasingly intense winter storms cause the inlet to reopen in a weakened beach. Given that there is no evidence this expenditure would reduce flooding, we suggest that such a large amount of money would be better spent protecting the communities that are most at risk. In these cash-strapped times it is incumbent on you as our elected leaders to make responsible, evidence-based financial decisions.
Finally, while the inlet is having no effect on water levels, it does seem to be having a positive effect on the water quality in the bay. Increased water exchange with the ocean appears to be clearing out the highly polluted water of the Eastern bay, providing hope that we might avoid future algal blooms and give the bay fauna a chance to recover. A healthy bay leads to healthy people, as well as thriving tourist, fishing, shell-fishing and other industries.
Again, we urge you to make this decision based on facts, not fear. The inlet is a silver lining amidst the devastation of Sandy; please do not waste millions of taxpayer dollars by closing it.
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