Beach Bummer: Shore Closings Spiked in NY, NJ Last Year

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New Jersey had the fourth-best beach water quality in the nation last year, and New York ranked No 24 out of coastal states — while the number of closures or advisories doubled in the Empire State, according to a report.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said in its annual water quality report, using government data, found that in New York and New Jersey, there were 1,972 days when beaches were closed or advisories issued to the public, compared to 1,065 in 2010.

Tropical Storm Irene forced beaches to be closed or warnings issued at a rate nearly double that of the previous year because of pollution concerns.

Some New York City beaches were also closed temporarily because of a nearly 200-million-gallon sewage spill in the Hudson River, after a treatment facility caught fire in July.

Thirteen 13 beaches in New York City met health standards in 2011 This included:

  • Four of six parts of Coney Island in Brooklyn
  • Eight parts of Rockaway Beach in Queens
  • One of two segments of Breezy Point (at Reid Avenue) in Queens.

The New Jersey beaches with the highest health standard violation rate were:

  • Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County (31 percent);
  • the Highlands Recreation Center beach in Raritan Bay in Monmouth County (28 percent),
  • the L Street Beach on the Shark River in Belmar in Monmouth County (20 percent),
  • Windward Beach on Brick's Metedeconk River, and the Maxson Avenue beach on the Manasquan River in Point Pleasant (19 percent).

In March, New York City and state announced a plan that will help tackle its 30 billion gallon-a-year sewage overflow problem. The plan will use porous pavement, green roofs, sidewalk tree boxes, and other increased green space to reduce the amount of rainfall that reaches the city's sewer system where it can trigger overflows when facilities are overloaded.

And last week the New York legislature passed the bill that requires publicly owned facilities to report sewage overflows to the public and to local and state agencies in a timely manner.

“The programs we have in place already and the commitments we made are taking out 8.3 billion gallons we project,” Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland said. “That leaves us with a deficit going forward of some 21 billion gallons a year. Over the next five years we’re developing long-term control plans to get that in place.”