South Shore bays are polluted
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Swanson explained that his research also indicated that the bays are not well flushed, meaning that there is no good place for the nitrogen to go. Measurements indicated that effluent leaving the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant does not immediately flush through the bays’ inlets, he said, but instead “sloshes back and forth.”
Dick Cartwright, of the U.S. Geological Survey, also presented data from monitoring stations in Point Lookout and Island Park. He said that daily statistics show good to fair water quality and ecological conditions near the estuary mouth at Point Lookout, but fair to poor water quality in the middle of the bay, near Island Park.
Research conducted by all three groups will inform the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s total maximum daily load document, which the state uses to regulate the maximum pollutant load that each waste discharger is allowed to release into a waterway.
A long process
But Lorraine Holdridge, a DEC representative, explained that the TMDL document would not be completed until 2017. She also said that the document could include a 15-year implementation plan.
Local activists and elected officials expressed concern about the TMDL time frame, suggesting that change has to happen at Bay Park sooner rather than later, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
At the end of December, environmentalists released a 10-point plan for the plant that included installing monitors at the outfall pipe in Reynolds Channel, creating a public oversight committee and modernizing it to treat nitrogen. Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the group that moderated last week’s forum, distributed a list of objectives to those who attended.