New York's beaches have the seventh worst water quality in the nation because of pollution from storm runoff and sewer overflows, according to the annual beach report from the Natural Resources Defence Council.
The report finds nearly 7 percent of samples taken last year violated health standards. New Jersey didn't fare much better, ranking 14th out of 30 states studied. The NRDC's Larry Levine says none of the popular beaches in the two states got more than three out of a possible five stars, "because they all failed to consistently issue advisories promptly after a health standard exceedence, and virtually none of them [takes] samples more than once a week." Among the area beaches that got the lowest scores: Orchard Beach in the Bronx, Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn, Robert Moses State Park Beach on Long Island and portions of Rockaway Beach in Queens.
On Long Island, beach closures in 2009 were up 10 percent over the previous year. Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Farmingdale says state and local officials could help solve the problem by promoting street trees and other green infrastructure to capture storm runoff, so it doesn't carry pollutants into waterways and cause sewers to overflow. "Whether it's permeable pavement, or keeping native vegetation, rain gardens, rain barrels, you name it, it can be done," Esposito says.