Water Quality At Douglaston Beach Among The City’s Worst
According to a new report, Douglas Manor Beach is one of the city’s worst when it comes to beach water quality.
An assessment by the Natural Resources Defense Council determined the private beach either closed or operated under a health advisory 36 times in 2006 — five more than the previous year.
NRDC lawyer Larry Levine said in 2005 and 2006, 13 percent of the samples taken at Douglas Manor Beach failed to meet health standards, with bacteria levels exceeding acceptable limits.
In 2005, Douglas Manor was the only area beach with samples exceeding acceptable limits. But in 2006, Levine said two other beaches, both in the Rockaways, also failed to meet health standards. The samples were taken from Breezy Point at 219th Street, and Rockaway Beach, between 126th and 149th streets.
At a press conference last week at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City, Sarah Chasis, director of NRDC’s Oceans Initiative, said increased rainfall is a factor in higher levels of beach water pollution nationwide.
Still, the report finds the most frequent sources of pollution come from runoff and stormwater, both of which can lead to system overflows and sewage spills.
The organization’s beach water quality report found a 28 percent increase in beach closures and advisories nationwide between 2005 and 2006.
Chasis said the New York/New Jersey region saw even greater increases, with the number of beach closures and advisories doubling between 2005 and 2006. She advocated for legislation that would set aside more money for finding and eliminating the sources of pollution.
Levine said the amount of runoff entering the sewer system needs to be reduced because the city’s system is not equipped to handle the amount of overflow — some 27 billion gallons — that it experiences each year.
Levine suggested green roofing, planting more trees, and the use of porous pavement to help absorb excess runoff.
“We can turn our rain water into a resource rather than a threat to public health,” he said.
As for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s greening plan, Levine said the city needs to go above and beyond the proposal. “The mayor’s plan is not as ambitious as it could have been.”
Chasis offered some safety suggestions for beachgoers this summer. First, find out if the beach you’re going to is monitored regularly. Second, don’t swim if you see visible sources of pollution. Lastly, if there’s been heavy rainfall, wait at least 24 hours before swimming at the beach.
The NRDC has been releasing an annual report on beach water quality at the nation’s beaches for 17 years. The latest report took into account samples from 318 beaches in New York State.
by Annmarie Fertoli, Assistant Editor