FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE04-27
Starts Enhanced Beach Protection Program For Summer
Includes Increased Shoreline Surveillance and Free Pump-Out Stations
for Boat Waste
Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the DEP
has begun its Enhanced Beach Protection Program for the summer.
The Program began May 15 will run through the summer months to
September 30, the traditional end of the region’s beach and
Under the Program each summer since 1997, DEP’s Marine
Sciences unit increases its monitoring of the harbor for various
water quality indicators such as fecal coliform and dissolved oxygen
levels. DEP also increases surveillance of the City’s shorelines
for illegal dumping from the City’s thousands of sewage outfalls.
Preventive maintenance of sewage pumping stations and regulators
is increased, as are efforts to monitor the impact of the sewage
overflows that occur throughout the City after rainstorms.
As an added feature to help protect harbor water quality, the
DEP also operates free pump-out stations where boat owners can
legally dispose of their onboard septic waste, rather than releasing
it into the harbor. This year the DEP has seven pump-out stations
throughout the five boroughs operating since May 1 during daylight
hours. Another two stations are available that are not funded by
“Thanks to the City’s investment in sewage treatment
plants and its stronger enforcement of environmental regulations,
pollution levels in New York Harbor have decreased by 98 percent
over the last 25 years,” said Commissioner Ward. “That
has enabled us to take greater advantage of the Harbor and to open
more beaches to the public for swimming.
“The Enhanced Beach Protection Program adds an extra level
of protection during the hottest summer months, when the most people
will be on or in the water. In the past, the Program has been successful
in minimizing beach closures and reducing the amount of sewage
that flows into the Harbor untreated,” continued Ward.
As part of the Program, 66 strategic points in the City’s
sewer system have had remote monitoring equipment installed to
alert the DEP to raw sewage discharges, including 25 pumping stations
and 41 sewer regulators located near beaches. The systems are monitored
around-the-clock and crews can be dispatched to respond to any
Boat owners wishing to use the DEP’s free pump-out facilities
must dock at a floating pier, open a valve on a remote control
pumping stand, and use a flexible hose to drain the boat’s
waste tank. Waste is suctioned through the hose from the remote
station to tanks, and from there flows to one of the City’s
14 sewage treatment plants. The convenience and cost effectiveness
of these modern pumping stations reduces the dumping of sewage
by marine vessels and provides a valuable service to the area’s
DEP’s seven free pump-out stations are located throughout
the five boroughs at: Dyckman Marina (Hudson River, Manhattan),
World’s Fair Marina (Flushing Bay, Queens), Bayside Marina
(Little Neck Bay, Queens), Locust Point Marina (Throgs Neck, Bronx),
Hudson River Yacht Club (Paerdegat Basin, Brooklyn), Coney Island
Water Pollution Control Plant (Shellbank Creek, Brooklyn), and
Lemon Creek Mariner’s Association (Princess Bay, Staten Island).
In addition, City of New York/Parks & Recreation operates
a free pump-out station at the 79 th Street Marina in Manhattan.
The National Parks Service also has one at Great Kills Marina in
Staten Island .
For the last 93 years, the City has issued an annual Harbor Water
Quality Report. The 2002 Report (issued in summer 2003) notes that
fecal coliform levels – an indicator of the presence of raw
or partially treated sewage and one of the most important water
quality indicators – dropped by over 98 percent in the Inner
Harbor and Upper East River since the early 1970s. The trend coincides
with upgrades to the four sewage treatment plants that serve those
areas: Bowery Bay , Tallman Island , Hunts Point and Wards Island
. Other reasons for improvements include better monitoring and
control of industrial discharges and the abatement of illegal dumping
into the sewer system.
Another pollution control program listed in the 2002 Report restricts
the discharge of certain types of industrial waste into the sewer
system. Over the last 13 years, the number of firms regulated under
this program has increased from 1,000 to 30,000, with no increase
in DEP staff. During that time, heavy metals in wastewater has
dropped from 7,800 lbs. to 2,800 lbs. per day citywide. Heavy industry
now accounts for less than one percent of the metals in untreated
In 1998, the DEP initiated a program to eliminate the discharge
of untreated sewage into the Harbor during dry weather. This program
involved a detailed evaluation of the City’s entire 425 miles
of shoreline and over 3,000 sewer outfalls. The initial survey
found that there was over 3 million gallons a day of untreated
sewage being dumped into the Harbor daily. To date, the DEP has
eliminated 96 percent of these discharges.
Since 1997, at the beginning of the Enhanced Beach Protection
Program, 92 sewage pumping stations throughout the City have had
computerized monitoring equipment installed. As a result, the total
amount of untreated sewage bypassed from pump stations and regulators
during the 2002 season was just 0.0002 percent of total dry weather
flow, a 97 percent decrease from 1997.
For more information on harbor water quality, sewage treatment
and the efforts of the DEP to monitor water quality throughout
the Harbor, see the DEP’s Web site at www.nyc.gov/dep.