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They’re working to return Patchogue Lake to health — for people and wildlife

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by Joseph Pinciaro

Dr. Mohammad Rana, a professor of biology at St. Joseph’s College, has been calling for a cleanup of Patchogue Lake for quite some time.

He first penned an article in The Long Island Advance in 1999, asking, “Can upper Great Patchogue Lake be saved?”

After the cost to clean it up proved to be too much, the project fell by the wayside. Now the effort is back — and the means to clean up the lake are basically fully funded.

Thanks to a grant from Suffolk County totaling nearly $50,000, four aeration devices — akin to air filters in a fish tank — will be placed throughout the lake in hopes of eventually providing the oxygen needed to bring the lake back to life.

“There is a serious problem of suffocation in the lake,” said Dr. Rana. “There is no oxygen, so organisms in there die.”

At the bottom of the lake, a layer of dead leaves, sediment, and trash have essentially grown into a “muck,” the biology professor said, with no water flow coming into the lake. Three aerators will be installed on the 30 acres south of Roe Boulevard, and one more aerator will be installed on the north side.

The grant comes as a joint effort between Dr. Rana and Saint Joseph’s College, Patchogue Village (which actually will purchase the devices) and Suffolk County, which is providing the funds. Students in Dr. Rana’s classes will keep track of the lake’s health.

Patchogue Village Trustee Joseph Keyes, who is on the Clean Lakes in Patchogue (CLIP) board, said one of his colleagues introduced him to Dr. Rana.

After a couple of presentations were held, all parties were on board.

“We’re a water community,” said Keyes. “With what we do as people with our own waterways, we have to keep in mind the effects we can have on marine wildlife can be pretty alarming.”

Keyes said the grant — run through the county’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program — will cover the cost of the equipment. However, permit fees owed to state Department of Environmental Conservation are not included, meaning the village will have to pick up about a $2,600 tab.

Keyes has been holding 50/50 raffles around the village to do it, and said he will continue doing so.

As far as what he would like to see the lake become in the future, Dr. Rana pointed out that it should be “like a normal lake.” In addition to adding to surrounding property values, he’d like to people swimming and fishing in it eventually.

“It should not look like a swamp,” he said. “People should be able to enjoy it.”

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Joseph Keyes raising money for lake cleanup efforts at the Oct. 16 Chili & Chowder Fest. (file photo)


Top: Patchogue Lake looking north from Holbrook Road/West Avenue. (Credit: Michael White)

About the author: Joseph Pinciaro

Joseph Pinciaro is a former editor at Times Review Media Group who previously worked with Patch.com. Follow him on Twitter @cjpinch.