FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE01-21
Contact: Geoff Ryan
York City Department of Environmental Protection Announces Results of Annual
Harbor Water Quality Survey
Shows Continuing Improvement in New York Harbor Waters.
Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the release of DEP's annual
Harbor Water Quality survey report which documents, through water quality
analyses and other environmental indicators, the continued improvement of
New York Harbor waters.
Commissioner Miele said, " In this, the 91st year of the survey, there
is clear evidence that New York Harbor's environment remains cleaner and the
water quality continues to be better than it has been since the early 1900s.
Evidence of this improvement ranges from breeding populations of double-crested
cormorants, herons, egrets and water fowl in the Harbor area, to improved
populations of benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms in Lower New York Bay.
Perhaps the best indication of a cleaner environment to both New York's residents
and visitors," continued Commissioner Miele, "is the fact that beach
closures have been virtually eliminated and certain shell fishing restrictions
off the Rockaway Peninsula and parts of Raritan Bay have been lifted. Much
of this improvement is directly related to improvements and enhancements to
the City's wastewater collection and treatment systems.
As documented in the report, under average conditions (representing a mix
of both dry and wet weather) monitoring data shows fecal coliform bacteria
(indicative of wastewater pollution) to have decreased by as much as 98% since
1974, so that water quality now meets New York State "bathing standards"
in all open waters of the harbor. Furthermore, sampling data shows that, over
the same period of time, significant harbor-wide increases in dissolved oxygen,
critical for most aquatic life forms, has also occurred.
Improvements to New York Harbor include:
- the continued opening of all New York City public beaches since 1992;
- no closures of public beaches in 2000;
- the relaxing of state advisories on human consumption of striped bass
and the possibility of opening a limited commercial fishery in parts of the
- the resurgence of aquatic organisms, including game and commonly sought-after
- the recovery of Hudson River shortnose sturgeon, a Federally endangered
species, to record breaking numbers.
These improvements are attributed to:
- the electronic monitoring of 88 sewage pumping stations and 102 sewer
- water conservation and sewer monitoring;
- the virtual elimination of raw wastewater discharges (including illegal
discharges) into harbor waters;
- the three-fold increase in capture of rainfall that enters combined sewers
(including trash or litter washed into storm drains);
- DEP's Grease Education and Enforcement Program;
- participation in USEPA's Strategic Goals Program; and
- the reduction of nitrogen loading in Jamaica Bay and the Upper East River/Western
Long Island Sound.
The Harbor Survey Program provides the longest documented assessment of
the impact of human activities on the City's water environment. By sampling
the water at 53 stations and measuring more than a dozen water quality parameters
throughout the Harbor, the survey:
- identifies changes in the environment and ecosystem of New York Harbor;
- describes long-term water quality trends; and
- provides a unique data base (dating back to 1909) for scientists, educators
and citizens; and
- enables DEP to do long-range planning and shift resources as needed.
The 2000 New York Harbor Water Quality Regional Summary will be available
on DEP's Web site at www.nyc.gov/dep, or by calling 718/DEP-HELP (337-4357).