From Memorial Day to Labor Day, NYC Parks Department tests city beaches weekly for waste bacteria, and closes beaches when results are above a threshold. That means during the rest of the year we swim and surf without a clue as to water quality. The big variable is aging local waste treatment plants that go into “bypass mode” when it rains above 1/4 inch, dumping untreated waste into bays adjacent to both Rockaway and Long Beach.
To address this information gap, we have kicked off a year-round water testing campaign at Rockaway Beach, NY. We test for the same bacteria, and will publish results on our website. If you surf, you check the weather and waves before you go. Now you can check water quality, too.
The data we collect over the long term will illustrate water quality issues to local elected officials and municipalities. They have the responsibility of keeping our waste processing facilities working in a way that protects our beaches, and preserves the economic engine our coastal recreation areas provide.