Thursday, December 6, 2012

Water Quality for New York Beaches


This Message comes from the LBSA via SMASH
If you are thinking of going surfing in Long Beach and Rockaway, please read this so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you think it's safe to go surfing. If you do decided to go surfing, wear ear plugs and be very careful! If the water smells foul, get out. 

Dear LBSA Members:

The City of Long Beach experienced unprecedented damage to our beaches,
homes and infrastructure as a result of Superstorm Sandy. The damage
sustained to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment plant has resulted in the
contamination of our waterways. This contamination threatens the
biological, aesthetic, and recreational value of our community and poses a
very real public health issue.

The LBSA believes that it is important to notify its members and all Long
Beach residents that there are serious, legitimate concerns with the local
water quality, including just off the coast and Reynolds Channel. We
recognize that many of us are not in a position to prioritize surfing,
however the longer these issues go without public notification and
rectification, the longer and harder they will be to remedy. The LBSA
believes that we have enough information so that you can make an informed
decision before you decide to surf, fish, paddleboard, etc. We also hope
that with this information you will feel compelled to act.

Scott Bochner, Long Beach resident, surfer, and founder of the
Sludgestoppers is one of the most qualified individuals to make a judgment
on the safety of our waters. He was intimately familiar with the issues
facing local sewage treatment infrastructure long before Sandy. When asked
for an opinion regarding whether or not it was advisable to surf, he
believed it was not. We share his concern. In Scott's words: "No I would
not surf...There is bacteria that still lives and even spreads with
dilution. Until the plants are online don't surf."

Local government (not surprisingly) and the local press (somewhat
surprisingly) have provided little detail on what exactly happened and have
issued no widely publicized warnings on the sewage or current state of our

Here is a summary of what happened:

- The night of Sandy Bay Park had a 9 foot surge and the electric shut
down. Sewage was not treated for 8 days.
- 56 million gallons of Raw untreated sewage was released into Reynolds
Channel. Reynolds Channel breached all bulkheads along its banks and
flooded Long Beach with all of the waste with it.
- The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant was off line for 8 days and continued
to dump into Reynolds Channel. This makes its way onto our beaches.
- It was not until the third week after the storm that partial treatment
was restored, mostly with chlorine.

- Additional concern is the home heating oil that flowed from residential
tanks into the plant.

- The plant now has some equipment to remove sludge and chlorine is still
being used.

- All treatment plants have special permits which require cetain levels of
Nitrogen, chlorine, and heavy metals to be met to operate.

- These levels are currently way above permitted levels and are not
considered healthy.

- Under NY State law, facilities with these permits must alert the Board of
Health, DEC and they are required to alert the public using one media
source and a website posting if the facility discharges over the legal
limit. The LBSA does not feel that the Nassau Coungy government and local
media have met their responsibility in this regard.

- There is nothing in place from our officials to warn the public about
water quality until May of 2013.

Bottom Line from Scott: "There is 56 million gallons a day that flows from
all of Nassau County to Bay Park and into our waters. Think of a third
world nation and sewage is not treated. This is a health hazard and the
Board of Health does not even put out a warning. They don't test because
they don't have to."

The LBSA has also been in contact with The Surfrider Foundation's National
Office and it's Blue Water Task Force's administrator, Mara Dias. Ms. Dias
referred us to a recent posting on the surfrider blog which incorporated a
recent New York Times article on local sewage issues as well as an official
warning statement from the Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider. Please see
the following links for more information:

As long as these issues go unadressed, (the longer it takes for the Plant's
function to be fully restored) the greater the chance that any problems
that exist now will compound. As surfers and water people, we do not want
to be the canary in the coal mine.

It is important to get this information out. Please send this to as many
people as you can - not to cause panic, but constructive alarm. The more
people know about what has happened, the better response we will get from
local government. The LBSA is in the process of planning a way to press
the Nassau County government for more answers and a clear solution. We
will keep you updated.

1 comment:

I Fish New York said...

Hi there!

Good article - scary though