Maybe you can row and fish here next summer 

Yaphank Lakes gets town approval for dredging


Since the 1970s, Bob Kessler has watched Upper Lake become so choked up with invasive weeds from his German American Settlement home that ducks and swans no longer summer there. He went to Brookhaven Town with 1,200 signatures in 2007 and formed the Save the Yaphank Lakes Coalition. 

Chad Trusnovec, whose family home overlooks the Lower Lake, began calling the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1993 when he saw a similar scenario. “My son, who fished all the time, told me, ‘I can’t fish. There’s too many weeds,’ ” he said of a regular activity that stopped in the late 1990s. In  2007, at a park dedication ceremony honoring Yaphank  resident and New York City firefighter Howie Carpluk  who was killed in the line of duty, Trusnovec, who drove  the Yaphank Fire Department’s ladder tower, corralled  Councilwoman Connie Kepert, Legis. Kate Browning and  then Assemblyman Marc Alessi, asking for help. 

“All three stood on the dock in August 2007, looked at the water, and said ‘wow!’ ” Trusnovec said.  

Five resolutions introduced by Kepert passed last week, targeting an estimated $3.3 million dredging project of the Upper and Lower Lakes that will hopefully transform the health and vitality of these once vibrant waterways. A hydraulic dredge will clear 13.42 acres of the Upper Lake; 23.86 acres will be dredged from the Lower Lake. Soft sediment, totaling about 112,300 cubic yards in both waterways, will be removed. The dredging activity will start June 1; Upper Lake will be dredged first. Cabomba and variable leaf milfoil are the invasive culprits being removed. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 1 office, this invasive species dredging effort may be the largest ever conducted.  

The project, funded mostly by Caithness, AVR and U S Rail phased community benefit monies, will be bonded.  

“We’ve been working on this for five long years,”  Kepert said. “We formed a Carmans River Protection Working Group, had Trout Unlimited, the DEC and guests tell us what they did to remove invasive species and how effective it was. We looked at chemical treatments.  [Legis.] Kate Browning came up with a feasibility study that looked at all the options.” 

“Connie told me it would only be a year and that was five years ago,” joked Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito. “I think this is the  first time on Long Island they’re doing such a large-scale  effort and other municipalities are watching.” 

The resolutions included placing the collected invasive species on Brookhaven Rail Terminal LLC property for dewatering purposes on their land, which BRT offered.  After a year, the dredged material will be carted to the Brookhaven Landfill; $1.5 million were the approximate tipping fees. 

The DEC is in the final stages of preparing a permit for Brookhaven, said DEC spokesperson Aphrodite Montalvo; they will not be conducting the dredging project; the permit was expected to be issued in the next few weeks. “The town will be the permit holder and will need to issue a request for proposal [RFP] for a private company to conduct the activities,” said Montalvo in an email. “The RFP generally takes several months to complete and the town will have a dredging window between June 1 [protection of fish spawning] and Oct. 31 [protection of turtles]. The town will be receiving a multi-year permit, so should the dredging project not be completed within the window allotted, the  town will be able to complete it in the coming years.”