Oct 15, 2007

Rx for sick Jamaica Bay wetlands

By Gary Buiso

The city last week released the blueprint it feels will improve the ecological health of Jamaica Bay, where poor water quality and disappearing marshlands have left the waterbody in critical condition.

The two-volume Watershed Protection Plan by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) details the troubling conditions in the bay and offers a guide for its future management.

The plan, delivered to the mayor and City Council, offers recommendations for the implementation of “hard and soft infrastructure projects, pilot studies, regulatory initiatives and public outreach efforts,” according to the DEP, which said some improvements would begin immediately.

Most significantly, the plan calls for specific measures to improve water quality, including limiting the amount of nitrogen that is released in the bay.

Nitrogen release is suspected as a cause of the bay’s diminishing water quality, and the prime culprit in the rapid disappearance of the bay’s saltwater marsh islands.

In the plan, DEP proposes the addition of carbon at the 26th Ward wastewater plant and at the Jamaica Water Pollution Control Plant—facilities that deposit cleaned waste in the bay.

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