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Assessment of water quality and fecal contamination sources at Hook Pond, East Hampton, New York

September 9, 2020


The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Village of East Hampton, New York, conducted a 1-year study from August 2017 to August 2018 to provide data necessary to improve understanding of the sources of nutrients and pathogens to Hook Pond watershed to allow for possible mitigation or reduction of loads. Chronic eutrophication and recent concern over harmful cyanobacteria in Hook Pond are the result of past and present land uses and a changing climate that have prompted the Village of East Hampton and local businesses to study and remediate factors contributing to the persistent loading of nutrients, organic contaminants, and pathogens. This assessment of Hook Pond, Hook Pond Dreen, and shallow groundwater provides the most comprehensive set of water-quality data to date. Interpretations presented in this study and the data on which they are based can be used to support management decisions, inform and contribute to modeling, and serve as a baseline for future assessments.

Results from continuous monitoring of water temperature, specific conductance, and elevation at Hook Pond site 10 (Maidstone Club golf cart bridge), as well as ancillary weather and tidal data from nearby stations, were used to help explain seasonal and storm-related concentration variation of nitrogen, phosphorus, wastewater-indicator compounds, and pathogens. Data collected were also compared to existing historical data. Physicochemical constituents measured on a routine basis throughout the pond and along the tributary showed the spatial variability in water temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and chlorophyll a and phycocyanin fluorescence. A lakebed survey was compiled based on the year-round sampling throughout the pond for future comparisons. Water-quality data from shallow groundwater at points around Hook Pond and adjacent to Hook Pond Dreen were interpreted and quantified to estimate relative contributions and species of nutrients, wastewater-indicator compounds, and microbial source tracking (MST) markers to base flow. To supplement the continuous water-surface elevation data, a single set of discharge measurements was collected under normal (nonstorm) conditions to better understand the relative contributions and dilution of surface waters by contaminated groundwater.

The nutrient and physicochemical data from this study can be used in conjunction with current and future models and decision support tools to guide planned and ongoing restoration efforts, such as dredging to reduce sediment accumulation, opening a pathway to the ocean (which would change the salinity and flow dynamics of the pond and adjacent groundwater), and addressing growing concerns over cyanobacterial blooms, while serving as a baseline for measuring changes resulting from sea-level rise, climate change, and changes in nutrient loading. The microbial source tracking and indicator bacteria results can help direct efforts to reduce runoff and direct contributions of fecal contamination from dogs and waterfowl along Hook Pond Dreen. The results can also be used to assess the current state of wastewater infrastructure surrounding and contributing to Hook Pond Dreen, based on detection of human markers throughout the year and with both Bacteroides and coliphage methods.

Publication Year 2020
Title Assessment of water quality and fecal contamination sources at Hook Pond, East Hampton, New York
DOI 10.3133/sir20205071
Authors Shawn C. Fisher, Brendan A. McCarthy, Christopher M. Kephart, Dale W. Griffin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2020-5071
Index ID sir20205071
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center