Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Conserving our Coasts & Waterfronts: Water Quality FAQs

This past Thanksgiving I went for a morning surf in the Rockaways. It was a stormy, windy, rainy day and the waves were in the double overhead range (8-12 ft), water temps in the low 50s. It was a great day to be in the ocean.

Unfortunately, waves weren't the only thing I caught that morning...by the next day an infection was pulsing through my body, most likely from the polluted waters I had swam in the day before. Every time it rains more than a half-inch our city's wastewater system discharges raw sewage mixed with stormwater directly in our harbors and bays making for a bacteria and virus-laden cocktail.

Surfers are often the first to feel the effects of these conditions, but it has to make you think "If we are getting sick every time it rains, then what is happening to the aquatic life that lives in these waters?" Do we even know what the water quality is during rain events and what are the impacts on our ecosystem?"

Below are a few links to more information on water quality in NY and NJ. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are a significant problem that need a solution to prevent the continued dumping of pollutants into our local waters. There are some solutions that you can assist with at your home or business...things like conserving water when it rains or installing a green roof are just a sampling of the options available .

It starts with everybody from residents and businesses to government regulators and elected officials pitching in to solve this problem. The CMRC is looking forward to working with you to reduce the impacts of CSOs and improve our coasts, oceans and waterfronts in the year to come. See you in the water...JB

Images:
Rockaway Surf - Robert Skorney
Submerged CSO - www.reef-rescue.org

Water Quality (WQ) Links:

NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/news/hwqs.html
Note: NYCDEP has NO real-time monitoring of WQ online!

NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/beaches/
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wmm/bmw/
Note: NJDEP has NO real-time monitoring of WQ online!

Surfrider NYC Water quality Testing
http://www.surfrider.org/bwtf/BWTFoutput.asp

CARP - Contamination Assessment & Reduction Project
http://www.carpweb.org/main.html

Southern California's Real Time WQ Monitoring
http://www.earth911.org/waterquality/default.asp?cluster=1

More about CSOs
http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/hep/pdf/hep_cso.pdf

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