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Source: Newsday

Annual report: Beach closures on LI up 10 percent in 2009

BY JENNIFER SMITH

Posted: July 28, 2010
Originally Published: July 28, 2010

Beach closures on Long Island were up 10 percent last year compared to 2008, according to an annual report on beach water quality issued Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Polluted runoff from heavy rains last summer is one reason for the uptick of local closures and advisories that warned against swimming, the advocacy group said.

"It rains, the beaches close, revenue is lost and public health is threatened," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Farmingdale, at a Manhattan news conference announcing the results.

Storm water sweeps bacteria-laden contaminants off roads and into bays and harbors. Pollution from septic tanks and sewage treatment plants also plays a role, advocates said.

The two most-closed beaches on Long Island were Centerport Yacht Beach Club on Northport Harbor and Crescent Beach in Glen Cove, the report said. The Glen Cove beach was closed most of last year and all of this year due to high bacteria levels.

The yacht club - which is close to the Northport sewage plant's outfall pipe - was denied a permit to operate the beach in 2009 because "numerous sources of fecal contamination, including that from humans, are impacting beach water quality and potentially exposing bathers to harmful pathogens," according to a 2009 report by the Suffolk County department of health. The Bayville beach club was closed for 87 days last year, compared with only eight closures in 2008.

As in previous years, the worst-scoring beaches were mostly located in protected bays and harbors with limited tidal flushing.

Other frequently closed beaches included Tanner Park Beach in Copiague, shut for 66 days, and the village beach in Laurel Hollow, shut for 22 days last year.

Results were mixed for five Long Island beaches that the group reviewed on a separate list of vacation beaches that assigned up to five stars for factors including cleanliness of water and frequent testing.

Long Beach and the main beach at Jones Beach State Park both got three stars for good water quality and informing the public of closures. Zach's Bay on the back side of Jones Beach State park was awarded two stars for testing twice a week and posting closure notices - though 10 percent of water samples taken there last year exceeded health standards.

Robert Moses State Beach only earned one star, which advocates said was in part because five percent of water samples there violated standards.

Parks spokesman George Gorman said there were two dates where standards were exceeded, on in August 2009 and another in September.

"We retested and the levels were within the acceptable standards ... It was an anomaly," Gorman said. "Usually with ocean water we don't see any exceedances at all. It could have been something in the water, or it could have been human error in the testing."