This weekend should be the start of the beach season. Unfortunately, it looks like rainy weather will put a damper on things.
Rainstorms often force beaches around the Sound to close because of pollution. To help get the word out about when it’s safe to enjoy a swim or when swimming is banned because of poor water quality, we’re launching a new pilot Sound Swim Alert program for Westchester County.
Each weekend morning from Saturday, May 25, through Labor Day, we’ll post a notice on this blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter to let you know whether it’s safe to swim. Look for the green light for good water quality, or the red light to let you know that that pollution has closed some beaches. Anytime (weekend or mid-week) beaches are closed, we’ll also send an email alert to our contacts in Westchester.
The alerts will be based on beach closing decisions made by the Westchester County Department of Health.
So why do beaches close?
Many sewers throughout Westchester County are in disrepair, so stormwater can infiltrate the pipes and force out sewage before it can reach treatment plants. The sewage-laden stormwater then flows into local waterways toward the Sound and its harbors and beaches. In addition, all around Long Island Sound, rain can overwhelm wastewater treatment systems or wash pollutants off local streets and into the waterways that flow toward the Sound.
As a result, Westchester County bans swimming at many beaches each time it rains half an inch or more in a 24-hour period. Westchester County beaches that are regularly shut down after a rain storm are Harbor Island Park, Beach Point Club, Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club, Shore Acres and Orienta Club in Mamaroneck; Hudson Park, Echo Bay Club, Davenport Club and Greentree Club in New Rochelle; and Coveleigh Club in Rye.
The Health Department also bans swimming at those beaches and others after sewage spills and when testing indicates high bacteria levels.
Last summer, 11 different Long Island Sound beaches in Westchester were closed because of pollution on 18 days. In all, almost 120 beach days were lost.
We’re hoping for a cleaner summer this year. You can help—check out our list of ways you can protect and clean Long Island Sound’s water!
To get the latest updates, check this blog, our Facebook page, or our Twitter feed on weekend mornings. To get the notifications about closings and other western Long Island Sound news direct to your inbox, sign up for our Western Long Island Sound Newsletter here.