Significant bacterial contamination at ten locations in and around Mamaroneck Harbor
MAMARONECK, NY — In a report released today, Save the Sound said its summer water quality monitoring revealed significant bacterial contamination at ten locations in and around Mamaroneck Harbor. The data release comes on World Water Monitoring Day.
Eight sites along the waterways that flow into Mamaroneck Harbor, the report said, need further testing and investigation to determine the causes of elevated levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria. Two sites—at a local A&P supermarket and at the Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club—require follow-up testing to confirm that fixes have been implemented successfully.
Pending funding, Save the Sound intends to return to the area next summer to conduct this testing as well as to take additional upstream samples on the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake rivers and Beaver Swamp Brook, all of which are tributaries of the harbor and Long Island Sound.
“The shockingly high levels of bacteria found at some testing locations are no doubt part of the reason Mamaroneck’s beaches are closed so often,” said Tom Andersen, Save the Sound’s New York program and communications director. “Village officials acted quickly to remedy the worst problems, but more repairs will be needed. By tracking down and fixing widespread sewage leaks and other illegal discharges throughout Westchester County, we can reopen our beaches and protect water quality along our shoreline.
“On World Water Monitoring Day, it’s heartening to know that citizens across the world are stepping up to monitor the health of their local environments to make water safer everywhere.”
Save the Sound sampled 25 sites in cooperation with local volunteers and Village of Mamaroneck officials, and with technical support from Earthplace Harbor Watch of Westport (click here for the interactive map).
The pilot water quality testing program was part of Save the Sound’s ongoing effort to ensure that Long Island Sound’s waters are safe and healthy for people and wildlife.
Testing was conducted on five days in June and July. The goals of the project were:
- to uncover and fix sources of bacterial contamination in local waterways and from storm sewers that were beyond the scope of a previous testing program conducted for the Village by the Arcadis consulting firm;
- to determine locations that warranted additional testing;
- to engage community volunteers;
- to raise general awareness of the problem of bacterial contamination in Mamaroneck and beyond.
Save the Sound chose Mamaroneck Village as the location of the project because bacterial pollution has been responsible for beach closings there since 1985.
Pollution from leaking sanitary sewers, storm sewers, streets, parking lots and other sources forces the Westchester County Heath Department to preemptively close five beaches in Mamaroneck (as well as four in New Rochelle and one in Rye) each times it rains a minimum of a half-inch within 24 hours.
Save the Sound calculates that Westchester’s Long Island Sound beaches were shut down for 138 beach days in 2013; 112 beach days were lost to pollution in 2012.