Zeldin Helps Town Garner Emergency Permit to Open Cut in Mecox Bay
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - The cut to Mecox Bay in Water Mill was opened Thursday, after efforts of United States Congressman Lee Zeldin, whose office issued the emergency permit authorization.
The cut will be open while Southampton trustees renew a 10-year dredging permit that will allow the town to maintain the opening over a longer period of time.
“Working closely with the Southampton Town Trustees, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, my office was able to secure the approval of an emergency authorization to allow Southampton Town to open the cut at Mecox Bay. The emergency authorization provides the permit needed to conduct this timely and important project that will protect the fish and wildlife in Mecox Bay, while ensuring the health and safety of Southampton residents," Zeldin said.
Added Scott Horowitz, secretary and treasurer of the Southampton Town board of trustees, said, “I would like to thank Congressman Lee Zeldin for assisting the Southampton Town trustees receive an emergency permit to open the cut at Mecox bay, so the water level can be lowered and the health of the ecosystem of the bay remain in a state that would support the many shellfish and fin fish that inhabit the bay. In addition, this action will alleviate the flooding of many of the areas basements and septic systems, which if left unchecked would create a health and safety issue. Many agencies need to be coordinated in order to be successful under the current circumstances, since this is the prime season for the nesting of some colonial birds such as the piping plover and least tern. The Southampton Town Trustees have great respect for all of the resources and administer an extensive endangered species program. The Trustees worked hard with all the agencies, including coordination assistance of our local congressman.
The opening of Mecox or cutting of the "Seapoose," the Shinnecock word for "little river," involves making a cut or trench dug into the barrier beach that separates a bay from the ocean. In essence, creating a little river from the bay to the ocean.
Millions of gallons of bay water rushes out, then millions of gallons of sea water rushes in, repleneshing the bay. The Shinnecock are believed to have dug the seapoose to maintain the salinity of the bay in order to harvest the shellfish there, including oysters and soft clams. Today the trustees also do it for the exact same purpose, as well as to reduce flooding of shoreline properties surrounding the bay.
According to town records, the first recorded cut was made in 1644. Back then it involved nearly the entire town, as colonists were required to help make the cut. It was backbreaking labor then, dug by hand and with animals. Today a backhoe does the job in as little as two hours.