Longtime environmental advocate Patricia Aitken has joined the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee as its new coordinator, responsible for working with the five East End towns and other agencies to improve water quality in the Peconic Bays.
The committee coordinates efforts between East End townships, the county and the state through information sharing, coordination of regulatory activities, conducting outreach and education, and cooperating on infrastructure programs.
Ms. Aitken was previously the Executive Director of Friends of the Bay in Oyster Bay, where her efforts to preserve, protect and restore water quality in the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor watershed led to an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for the organization’s water quality monitoring program.
She has been honored by the Nassau County Legislature and the New York State Legislature for her efforts to protect the marine environment.
“I look forward to working with the partner municipalities and organizations in the estuary to protect and improve water quality in the Peconic Estuary,” said Ms. Aitken, who recently moved to Calverton. “It is a place of great natural beauty, and is an important resource for all the residents of Long Island.”
Ms. Aitken, who began work for the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee Jan. 1, said she hopes to work on issues relating to nitrogen pollution seeping into the estuary from aging septic systems, and runoff. She also says she would like to educate civic groups and homeowners on the importance of their stewardship of the water bodies and watersheds near and underneath their homes.
She had been a planner at Nelson, Pope & Voorhis – an environmental planning firm with expertise in complex environmental project management and land use planning and analysis, and is a longtime lover of sailing and birding in Long Island’s natural places.
Key to her new role will be working with the towns surrounding the Peconic Estuary on what they can do to contribute to the health of the bays.
“I think everybody’s been making a significant effort,” she said, adding that she has just begun outreach to the towns surrounding the bays. “There are so many issues, and it’s not something that’s easily solvable.”
She added that part of the work will be prioritizing implementation of water quality projects where they will have the greatest impact, making the best use of limited financial resources.
“I know I speak for all the committee members when I say that we are excited to bring Ms. Aitken on as our new coordinator,” said Veronica King, Peconic Estuary Protection Committee Co-Chair. “Her expertise and professionalism will certainly put us in the right direction and provide the guidance we need to advance our common goals of protecting and preserving the Peconic Estuary.”
“The protection of the Peconic Estuary is vital to preserving Riverhead’s sustainable economy as well as an important part of our heritage,” agreed Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. “Ms. Aitken has the right set of skills to empower our community and move forward our important projects that protect, manage and restore the Peconic estuary according to local values and needs. Water quality is the most important priority we have.”