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Town’s Green Living Expo called a success

By Carrie Ann Salvi

The Green Living Expo was a “big success with an estimated 125 attendees,” according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty. That number does not include presenters nor the dozen students washing cars in an eco-friendly way outside the fair, raising more than $700 for the senior fund. There was no cost to the vendors who provided information on green living to support clean water and a greener environment. Most of those who staffed the presenting tables were volunteers from non-profit groups, as well as town committee members or employees.

The event, first held last year, was town-sponsored and suggested by Jim Dougherty and Town Attorney Laurie Dowd through the Green Options Committee, which was established in 2008 at the request of Supervisor Jim Dougherty. The committee was created to support a range of environmentally sustainable practices and policy, leading by example, education, legislation and other appropriate measures.

Measures recommended by the committee include alternative energy, energy efficiency and equipment and practices and protection of the aquifer.

Protection of aquifer was the theme of this year’s green living fair, organized by the committee including Christian and Daniel Fokine.

CARRIE ANN SALVI PHOTO | Christine John, right, learns how gravel, sand and soil can filter pollutants out of runoff, but not pharmaceuticals or fertilizers, from an exhibit tended by Cindy Belt of the Nature Conservancy.

Highway Superintendant Mark Ketcham was a presenter with an impressive model showing how stormwater runoff and the pollutants it carries can end up in groundwater, ponds, creeks and bays. Mr. Ketcham explained how the town is using catch basins with filter inserts that remove hydrocarbons such as oils, antifreeze and petroleum products, before runoff leaches into groundwater. He said the town changes the filters once a year and uses vacuum trucks to clean out debris such as leaves and garbage.  There are 15 to 20 of these filtered catch basins in the town.

“What we want to do is filter the water before it gets to the bay,” he said. The program meets some of the federal mandates to prevent storm runoff from polluting local waters.

Another impressive hands-on visual display was created by Cindy Belt on behalf of the Nature Conservancy. Ms. Belt demonstrated how various liquids are, or are not, captured by nature’s own filtering system of gravel, sand and rocks.

“Nature provides services to us for free to protect itself,” she said.

From the experiment, however, it was clear that fine particulates such as pharmaceuticals are not captured. That’s why the Shelter Island Police Department was on hand with a collection box for unused toxic pharmaceuticals. Proper disposal of such chemicals protects the water, and the Island’s children as well, according to Officer Walter Richards. The pharmaceutical collection program was started by Nurse Mary Kanarvogel, and is available at the Shelter Island Pharmacy, Police Department, and the school.  Edward Bausman, the chairman of the Conservation Advisory Council, was on hand to explain how mowers set as high as possible will help lawns to need less water, alleviate runoff and establish better root systems.

The first expo was held in May last year. The date was pushed back further into the season to accommodate more second home residents.

Many community and town members donated time and resources, including the Shelter Island Association, which donated funds to videotape the event for Channel 22, live music by Island Folk, and samples of smoothies and chilled cucumber avocado chili soup from Jen DiPretoro of Greeny’s Natural Market and Cafe.

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