The recently approved New York State budget includes $300,000 in funding for a pollution study of the Western Bays that includes waterways in Wantagh and Seaford.
The funding comes under the Environmental Protection Fund and will provide for a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Study to assess the pollution already affecting the South Shore waterway and to prevent further pollution such as excessive sewage, according to a press release from Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach.
Local environmental groups and civic organizations were instrumental in ensuring that the funds were in the budget, Weisenberg said and cited the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Point Lookout Civic Association, Sludge Stoppers, Operation Splash, and Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
Scott Bochner, a Long Beach resident and co-found of the Sludge Stoppers Task Force, said in a statement that the study will show what the Bay Park sewage treatment plant in East Rockaway has been discharging into Reynolds Channel. “Once we show the federal government and the DEC, we will be able to get federal dollars to not only upgrade the Bay Park plant but also the Long Beach sewage treatment plant,” said Bochner, .
According to Weisenberg's office, Western Bays are home to four sewage treatment plants and one power plant that discharge 64.5 million gallons of wastewater on a daily basis, and have amassed several violations over the years for releasing certain materials into the bays. Beginning in 1998, the Western Bays have been on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s list of impaired water bodies, first for pathogens and again in 2006 for excessive nutrients. The Western Bays includes the Long Beach barrier island and Jones Inlet and spans to the Suffolk County line.
“It is imperative that we persist in the lengthy process of identifying damages and seeking cleanup,” Weisenberg said. “Once we understand the science, we can take steps to implement new pollution controls to reduce the impact.”