The NRDC has reported some interesting findings about our beloved beaches. From May to September of last year, the NRDC sampled water from Coney Island to Montauk and beyond as part of its annual analysis of water quality. This week, the organization released its final report. The verdict? New York State is ranked 22nd out of 30 in beachwater quality (the horror!).
In spite of the low ranking, New York City’s beaches performed relatively well according to a five-star ranking system. Rockaway Beach from 116th to 126th received four out of five, with less than 5 percent of the samples exceeding the national standard, along with Coney Island Beach at Ocean Parkway and West 8th.
That the city’s beachwater quality is not exceptional doesn’t come as a surprise to the NRDC: the report partly blames these findings on flooding, CSOs (combined sewer overflows), and the failure of wastewater treatment and pumping stations left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. However, according to the organization, stormwater pollution was the leading cause of 2012 beach closings around the country, so freak storms won’t be our get-out-of-jail card.
All in all, facts will probably remain facts in a city where you have to wring out your shirt before entering the workplace during the summer. And besides, the pools are opening! Regardless, the NRDC has given us plenty of food for thought which could go a long way in a political climate where resiliency and climate change have taken center stage.
By making one part of the city work better (street run-offs improved with bioswales, better storm water management overall) good design makes life in all parts of the city work better. The NRDC report also makes us think how smaller, determined bands of New Yorkers (kayakers!) can create movements (checking water quality) that incidentally improve conditions for large numbers of oblivious New Yorkers (beachgoers!). In any case, ratings for New York City beaches have given a green light to both the clueless and the conscientious.