The environmental advocacy group Save the Sound has revealed that its tests of Little Neck Bay water this year revealed a large amount of sewage contamination.
During this year’s swim season, the group worked with volunteers to collect water samples from 11 locations in the bay. Among other findings announced last Thursday, Save the Sound said that 42 percent of the samples collected did not meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for safe swimming water.
Most of the substandard samples collected were taken after rainfall.
“Little Neck Bay faces multiple sewage pollution challenges including antiquated septic systems along the shoreline, combined sewage overflows from NYC and municipal sewage discharges from Nassau County,” Save the Sound Director Tracy Brown said in a statement. “Save the Sound is happy to be working in partnership with the residents of the bay who share our commitment to reducing water pollution. To get lasting results here we also need New York City, Nassau County and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation to commit resources to cleaning up the bay.”
Only 58 percent of the samples collected this year met the agency’s safe swimming criteria; the remainder failed. While far from perfect, the statistics are an improvement from last year’s Little Neck Bay samples tested by Save the Sound: 60 percent of those failed the EPA swimming criteria.
In one part of the bay, though, there has been marked improvement from last year. Going down from 101 last year to 39 this year, the environmental group said the average bacterial count measured from testing water at Douglaston Manor Beach have decreased.
“This season we saw improvement at the Douglaston Manor Beach,” Save the Sound Water Quality Program Manager Peter Linderoth said in a prepared statement. “We want to see this scenario throughout the bay.”
The city Department of Environmental Protection did not return a request for comment about Save the Sound’s findings. Its state government counterpart did, though.
“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation continues to require the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to construct and expand sewer system improvement projects to lessen the impacts of future Combined Sewer Overflows,” a spokeswoman for the DEC said in an emailed statement. “In fact, such improvements have reduced discharges to Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay by 60 percent per year.”
Douglaston Civic Association President Sean Walsh said that while Little Neck Bay has improved in recent years, he would like to see more done to mitigate the impact of combined sewer overflows, which pollute the body of water when rain overwhelms the sewer system.
“I’d like to see more holding tanks,” he said, explaining that an increase in them would result in less pollution from combined sewer overflows. He added that an expansion of the Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant’s capacity would also be a good idea.