To our valued participants:
We have a situation on our hands here. As some of you are aware, there has been considerable attention paid to harbor wide water quality this season. The NYC Water Trail Association has spearheaded an effort to compile data on water quality, particularly at boat launch sites. Find out more about this project here: www.nycwatertrail.org.
The data coming back on Hallets Cove water quality has been surprising. It has shown that bacteria counts have been consistently high, regardless of conventional measures used by the DEP (Dep’t of Environmental Protection) to determine likelihood of such levels.
Typically, the DEP has based its predictions of water safety on rainfall and its effect on CSO (Combined Sewage Outflow.) It is coming to light that Hallets Cove water is showing high levels of bacteria count; levels are consistent with the presence of more sewage than can readily be explained.
Water quality testing has been performed on a weekly basis this season. Week after week, the levels of certain bacteria associated with sewage have been higher than could reasonably be expected.
Why is Hallets Cove so dirty? What is going on? We are trying to find out. And we are looking at what we might be able to do about finding out.
We are considering how to approach this situation. On the one hand, we enjoy providing an enjoyable community service. The public walk up paddling program has produced tremendous value for the neighborhood and beyond! It’s such a cool and wonderful thing, a real win-win-win.
On the other hand, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and everyone else if we fail to take action to find out what is creating a hazardous condition in a public place; a place which is enjoying wider recreational use all the time by individuals who are probably not aware of the potential hazards.
Note that boating is not swimming, and as such we are in a bit of a frontier with these water quality readings and with our responsibility to decide about kayak activity. Water quality warnings are typically concerned with beach areas where people are in prolonged contact with the water, and water is likely to enter mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth).
CALL TO ACTION: Contact the DEP to demand an investigation of the source of pollution in Hallets Cove. Help keep community sponsored kayaking alive here. Below please find a draft of a communication we encourage you to send with your name to the Commissioner of DEP. (Copy and paste, print, send in the mail.)
Address letters to:
Carter Strickland, Commissioner
Department of Environmental Protection
59-17 Junction Boulevard, 13th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373
Or, send an electronic message by going to this site: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildep.html
Dear Commissioner Strickland,
I am a New York City resident who would like to participate in the community sponsored kayaking program at Hallets Cove, operated by the Long Island City Community Boathouse in conjunction with Socrates Sculpture Park. This year the kayaking program has been cancelled several times due to water quality concerns.
As you may know, a grass roots Citizens Water Quality Testing Program was initiated this year by the New York City Water Trail Association (www.nycwatertrail.org) and volunteers from boathouses around the harbor.
On ten (10) of the fourteen (14) days this year for which samples have been collected at Hallets Cove, the Most Probable Number (MPN) of Enterococcus colonies per 100 ml has been in the range considered “unacceptable for swimming” or “unacceptable for swimming if levels persist” according to EPA enterococcus standards for swimming. Further, high levels that have been measured DO NOT CORRELATE with rainfall or CSO discharges. Ref: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhvspccU_-qrdFd5LXNkQS1JWTd5MlEyNDdjUDVsMWc#gid=0
This would seem to indicate that there is another source of enterococcus pollution in Hallets Cove.
I request the Department of Environmental Protection investigate the source of this pollution and implement a remedy; or if the source is a private entity, require that entity to implement a remedy, at the earliest possible time.
The health and safety of the people who use the public beach at Hallets Cove depend on the water being free of pollutants. I urge the DEP to take action to clean up Hallets Cove.
(your name here)
Thank you for all you do.