From Memorial Day to Labor Day, The NYC Parks Department tests city beaches weekly for waste bacteria, and closes beaches when results are above a threshold. That means during the rest of the year we swim and surf without a clue as to water quality. The big variable is aging local waste treatment plants that go into “bypass mode” when it rains above 1/4 inch, dumping untreated waste into bays adjacent to both Rockaway and Long Beach.
To address this information gap, Surfrider Foundation's New York City Chapter has kicked off a year-round water testing program at Rockaway Beach and Coney Island, NY. The Blue Water Task Force tests for the same fecal bacteria, enterococcus, and will publish results on the Blue Water Task Force Website. If you surf, you check the weather and waves before you go. Now you can check water quality, too.
The data collected over the long term will illustrate water quality issues to local elected officials and municipalities, who have the responsibility of keeping waste processing facilities working in a way that protects our beaches, and preserves the economic engine our coastal recreation areas provide.
The New York City Chapter is always looking for people interested in learning about what is in our water. Want to test the water in Rockaway or Coney Island? – Let the chapter know! Good at PR? – they are currently putting together a public relations team to formulate ideas for getting our information out to the public. Like relaxing subway rides? – you can help transporting samples from Coney Island or downtown Brooklyn to Rockaway Beach on Friday afternoons / evenings. If you would like to contribute your time and positivity and become part of the water testing team, drop them a line at BWTF@nyc.surfrider.org