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Sandy and dirty water in NY

November 13 2012 | Coastal development, Water, Blue Water Task Force, Water Quality,

Every year Surfrider volunteers do thousands of water quality tests. Our staffer focused on water quality issues, Mara Dias, happens to live on Long Island and is thus very familiar with what is happening locally. The following are her words...


In addition to all the physical damage that Sandy has caused, there  was an enormous amount of pollution flowing into rivers, bays, ocean & our streets in the first days - week following the storm.

Here is a piece and another here.

There are a number of confounding causes, power outages at sewage treatment plants, too much rain, and coastal surge flooding.  Combined sewer systems like those in NY and some areas of NJ, were completely overwhelmed and not only discharging untreated sewage into the ocean/ bays/ rivers, but even the streets, as the entire system was backed up due to the large coastal surge.

We recently hosted an east coast summit in Long Beach, NY. For those located in Long Beach, NY, the plant there was once again discharging into Reynolds Channel. 

Scott Bochnor, the whistle blower who first video taped this illegal discharge coming out of the Nassau Count's pipes a couple of years ago, has reported that there were 7 or 8 days straight of brown discharge.   We recommend that for those that want to follow up on this locally, Scott and the group SludgeStoppers is very involved and active and have already made relationships with media, treatment plant  and county health officials.  Here is their Facebook page.

So far, the local surfrider chapters in NY and NJ have been busy digging out of their own personal messes and coordinating volunteers who want to be involved in clean-ups and relief efforts.  Riverkeeper has been calling for attention to water contamination and taking some samples themselves up in the watersheds of the Hudson and Hackensack. 

The NYSDEC has put restrictions on shellfishing and the NYC DOH has issued an advisory to avoid all recreational contact w/in area rivers, NY Harbor and Jamaica Bay.

We don't know if anyone is looking at the ocean water along the south shore.  This time of year the water is not normally tested at all.  Atlantic Beaches in NY, Nassau & Suffolk County are usually only monitored from Memorial - Labor Day.  Nassau County doesn't even have a good website for their beach program but we found this contact info,

Bathing Beaches and Swimming Pools:
This office inspects and regulates all public bathing beaches and swimming pools in Nassau County.
Swimming pools and beaches: (516) 227-9717.

Our guess is most agencies, if they are considering recreational water quality at all in light of all of the other emergencies facing our communities right now, are worrying about the bays and rivers as the pollution would be higher there and are not testing the ocean at this time as they do not normally consider ocean recreation during the 'off' season anyway. 

More info on this here.

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