Jul 29, 2009
WASHINGTON (July 29, 2009) – The water at American beaches was seriously polluted and jeopardized the health of swimmers last year with the number of closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches reaching more than 20,000 for the fourth consecutive year, according to the 19th annual beachwater quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“Pollution from dirty stormwater runoff and sewage overflows continues to make its way to our beaches. This not only makes swimmers sick – it hurts coastal economies,” said Nancy Stoner, NRDC Water Program Co-Director. “Americans should not suffer the consequences of contaminated beachwater. From contracting the flu or pink eye, to jeopardizing millions of jobs and billions of dollars that rely on clean coasts, there are serious costs to inaction.”
Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NRDC’s report – Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches – confirms that our nation’s beachwaters continue to suffer from serious contamination – including human and animal waste – that can make people sick.
NRDC’s report also provides a 5-star rating guide for 200 of the nation’s most popular beaches, based on indicators of beachwater quality, monitoring frequency, and public notification of contamination.Five-star beaches included Gulf Shores Public Beach (AL), Laguna Beach-Main Beach (CA), Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach (CA), Newport Beach (CA), Ocean City (MD), Park Point – Community Club Beach in Duluth (MN) and Hampton Beach State Park in Hampton (NH). Some of the lowest ranking beaches (1-star) were Zach’s Bay at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh (NY), Ocean Beach Park in New London (CT), Venice Public Beach (FL) and Central Beach in Point Pleasant (NJ).
While the report found a 10 percent decrease in closing and advisory days at beaches nationwide from 2007, it reveals this drop was the result of dry conditions in many parts of the country and decreased funding for water monitoring in some states last year, rather than a sign of large-scale improvement. The decline follows two years of record-high closing and advisory days and the primary pollution source, stormwater runoff after heavy rains, continues to be a serious problem that has not been addressed.
“When the rains return,” Stoner said, “so will pollution, forcing beaches to issue more closings and advisory days.”
For the full report, go to www.nrdc.org/beaches.
Jul 26, 2009
|More pictures in Picasa gallery here: Sebago SailComm Sunday Cruise|
Phew! I was really starting to wonder if I was going to get to sail at ALL this summer.
Thanks Jim & Holly for a great day, and for arranging it so that those thunderstorms didn't roll through until we were off the water & finished with that wonderful potluck picnic (and thanks, Mark, for organizing the picnic, that was a brilliant idea)!
Jul 23, 2009
An example of a totally useless water quality report: NYC Department of Health
Why? They are never correct...list good water on the worst days, bad water on perfectly clean days...a total waste of our tax dollars and time.
Testing the Water By Diana Mellon Hartford Advocate
It's Friday afternoon, and Rosemarie Soldi points to a coffee cup and a piece of plastic next to her on the sand at West Haven beach. Nowadays, she only goes into the water up to her waist. "I would not take my granddaughter to swim here," she says. She has watched the beach become dirtier and dirtier in the 30 years she's lived here.
When West Haven's water is dirty — too dirty by state standards — the town's Public Health department doesn't let beachgoers know. According to an Advocate investigation, West Haven is the only one of five shoreline towns (New Haven, Branford, East Haven, West Haven and Milford) that hasn't closed its beach or posted a dirty-water advisory at all since 2003. But last summer alone, 19 water samples from West Haven exceeded the safety limit suggested by the state.
One June day last year was particularly bad: 13 of the 18 water samples taken by the Health Department at different locations along the beach came back above the acceptable bacteria standard, but Connecticut's longest public beach remained open for swimming.
The state encourages towns to send beach water samples to its lab for free testing every Monday. The lab counts the number of colony forming units ("cfu") of Enterococcus — a bacteria — per 100 milliliter of salt water. State guidelines consider an Enterococcus reading of more than 104cfu per 100ml of water to be potentially dangerous.
Enterococci are indicator bacteria: If levels are high, there's a good chance of too much human or animal feces, which can carry contagious diseases.
With a result above 104, the state says towns should look for pollution sources at the beach, put up an advisory or close the beach and retest the water as soon as possible. Since this isn't required, some towns close their beaches and others don't.
Because of the time lag between when samples are collected and when results come back — it takes one to three days — some health officials disregard test results. Water conditions may have changed by the time towns are notified of a high bacteria count.
Some officials place more trust in what they see on the beach: If nothing looks suspicious, the beach stays open. Most beach closings and advisories — more than 75 percent between 2003 and 2008 — are due to rain, not high test results. Several towns, like Milford, proactively close their beaches when there's heavy rain. Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants and, in older sewage systems, runs down the same pipes that carry raw sewage to treatment plants. The plants are overwhelmed when it rains, so they dump untreated sewage into Long Island Sound.
Chances are, testing only once a week won't catch most sewage spills. A test taken on a Monday wouldn't detect a pollution incident occurring on Tuesday.
Only occasionally does the test have perfect timing. One West Haven beach sample, taken on June 24 of this year, showed more than 19 times too many Enterococcus bacteria. After the test results came back, Ray Puslys, West Haven's chief sanitarian, walked the beach and discovered the culprit: The city's sanitary sewer line was backed up. He warned the city, which fixed the problem, but not the public. In the meantime, the beach stayed open for swimming.
The tests, West Haven's Puslys argues, are meaningless if water conditions have changed by the time the test results come back days later. "Going by the results," he says, "you tend to close a beach when it should be open and open it when it should be closed."
Because the Enterococcus test is slow and out of date, local public health officials are caught in a difficult position, says Jon Dinneen, a research analyst at the state's Department of Public Health. The federal Beach Act of 2000 required that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) come up with new standards and a faster test by 2005. When that deadline passed, the National Resources Defense Council waged a successful lawsuit against the EPA. The new deadline is 2012.
Dinneen says swimmers should always follow the state's long list of safety guidelines — don't swim with open cuts, don't put your head under water, don't bury friends in the sand, always towel off after swimming. Because you never know when you're swimming in unsafe water.
Jul 19, 2009
Sebago Canoe Club City of Water Day participants, obligatory group shot with Statue of Liberty (sorry we didn't make it there, John, we should do that as a club trip sometime)
In the Buttermilk Channel
At Yankee Pier (where the free boat rides were going on all day)
Sebago Canoe Club participants on Governor's Island
The Saturday-only group leaves around 5:30
We beached, dragged our boats up on the shore of Ruffle Bar, and ate the lunch we had intended to eat on the Raunt. Our Subway subs and Cherry Cokes tasted better out of the wind and under the sun than they would have ever tsted in the restaurant. As the tide came in and lapped against our boats we packed up and headed back to Sebago. With the wind at our backs and surfing a few waves our return trip seemed to take half as long and was twice as enjoyable as our paddle out had been frustrating.
Back at Sebago, as we were taking our boats up to the wash racks, we met Bonnie. She had returned just ten minutes earlier from her paddle all the way from Governor’s Island. We congratulated her on the accomplishment and then rinsed our boats, packed up our gear, and headed home.
All in all it was a good afternoon on Jamaica Bay. The water was warm. The sky was blue with a few high clouds. Power boat traffic was minimal.
Jul 18, 2009
These are the minutes from the Sebago Canoe Club trip to Stonington, Maine on July 12 to 18, 2009. All relevant committees reporting.
Cruising committee: All members present and accounted for at beginning and at end of trip: Walter, Tony, Dottie, Fran, Shari, Elizabeth and Denis.
We arrived to find a beautiful, newly built bunkhouse on the lovely Old Quarry Ocean Adventures grounds. The launch site was just below us--we never re-loaded the boats until it was time to go home. Off the coast were multiple little islands, which we visited as follows:
Monday: Green Island (Elizabeth's favorite, of course!) has an old abandoned quarry, where you can swim and have lunch, which we did. The water is naturally collected rainwater, and it is bracing but delightful. Little fishies might check you out. We stopped also at Steve's Island I believe that day. Despite some late afternoon wind, we landed safely back at Old Quarry, where the Hospitality committee served an excellent dinner.
Tuesday: We went to...the island with the trees and the granite rocks...then to the one with the rocks and the trees. What can I say, Walter has the chart and he will show you. One of the stops was the island where the footings for the Brooklyn Bridge came from! I thought of all the men who died building the Brooklyn Bridge, and wondered if less famous men had died in granite quarries for our bridge. It was quite a feeling to stand on that same bit of stone and look at the wonderful natural setting--I will give the bridge a fond pat and a shout-out from its brother stone next time I am down there. (I would have taken a stone with me, but we were very strict in our Leave No Trace practices.) It was a great day of paddling, with clear blue skies and good cheer all around. And lobster for dinner, cooked on site by Captain Bill.
Wednesday: The Hard Core Salty Dogs (Dottie, Walter and Tony) made an early departure for Isle Au Haut.
View Larger Map This is a far paddle, perhaps 15 miles or more round trip. Normal people do not do this. As a matter of fact, I bumped into people the whole next day, who started conversations with "Did you hear there were some people who actually PADDLED over to Isle au Haut? Can you believe it?" Yes I can. Walter reports that his greeting at the Isle au Haut General Store was "paddled ovah I hear;" thus we see the Salty Dogs reputations preceded them. Chalk one up for Sebago fame and fortune. The remaining travelers supported the local economy by purchasing jewelry, a bird feeder, and various and sundry other items. We also made a stop at Brooklin, which had no hipsters and no bridge. In the photo (to be posted) you can see us correcting the spelling error for the town. Ice cream was had by all.
The HCSD's were off the water early, and we all got cleaned up and went to a concert at the Stonington Opera House. We saw an amazing performance by two of these guys. (Aren't you glad the Cruising Committee knows how to embed links?) in which they sang all kinds of folk songs from the immediate vicinity. Some were bawdy, some funny, and some touching. It was a remarkable performance. The instruments included accordion, guitar, banjo, fiddle, and shoes on a wooden plank, as is seen in Quebecois and Maritime folk music as well. Sebago got culture, yo.
Thursday: More paddling, more beautiful weather, and a trip to Wreck Island. By afternoon, there was a bit of fog wisping over Isle au Haut, so we paddled our butts back to camp before the real weather could roll in (and roll in it did--fierce thunder and lightening, but we were high and dry by then). Denis and I were in a tandem that day, which was a good thing when it was time to really put our heads down and paddle like crazy. As we passed Shari's Island with Shari's Amazing Summer Home Compound with Room for Many Guests, which she will buy when her Ship Comes In, we knew Old Quarry was just around the bend, and like the old grey mare who sees the barn, Denis and I paddled to our rental dock. Phew.
Friday: Drive home. This part sucked. All arrived safely.
Hospitality committee: Wow, these people can sure eat and drink. Pots and pots of coffee (sorry, Fran), yogurt, scones, cereal, and fruit for breakfast; packed lunches of PBJ and some goodies in their dry bags; dinner out some nights and in other nights. It was a non-stop feast. Local goat cheese from the "leave the money in the cigar box" refrigerator; tuna steaks from a fish caught off a party boat, and Bill's lobster as mentioned above. When a crucial ingredient was missing at the last second, Bill gallantly supplied it from his own fridge. (It was tonic.) Wines included: Happy Camper, Menage a Trois White, Menage a Trois Red (keep dreaming, boys) Mandolina various varietals, port, big honkin' bottle of Yellow Tail and...um, I forgot after that. But paddling burns calories, right? Let's hope so, because we ate fresh local pie every night.
Safety committee: All members and all gear returned to Sebago in good shape. We battled bravely against mosquitos, and although many battles were fought to victory, we must report that the mosquitos won the war. There was one participant who threatened bodily harm against other members. There was talk of chopping off heads with a machete, using the remains of said victims as chum or as bait in lobster pots, etc. Thankfully no machete was available. Apparently, this tirade was related to the nocturnal snoring habits of some Sebago members. The complaintant was appeased with wine, vodka, tonic and lime. Committe budget will include earplugs in the future.
Culture committeee: As was already reported, we had an outing to the Stonington Opera House, but we also had a poetry reading by our own Denis on Thursday night. This was well received by all who were still awake and not too drunk yet. Denis is a talented poet. In response to the folk music we enjoyed, many songs have been written on this trip in the Down East Deer Isle tradition. Some are not appropriate for reporting in the minutes. These songs have not been written down as of yet, but, as in all folk traditions, improve with age and reputation (like wine). Particularly the song Frannie on the Waves, or was it Adrift in a Plastic Boat...
Membership committee: Membership brochures were given to a local paddler who is planning to circumnavigate Manhattan in October; to a couple from Long Beach, NY, and to Captain Bill, who now operates Sebago's northernmost membership outreach department.
Naturalist committee: We saw porpoises right in front of us, bald eagles right above us and some saw harbor seals (not me, alas). Wildflowers everywhere, including wild iris. They got a lot of nature up in there. It's breathtaking. The stars at night are thick, thick like soup.
This concludes the report (for now anyway) of the Sebago Crusing Committee and all other relevant committees. Smart paddlers are advised to keep an eye out for notices from the Cruising Committee as they are posted, and reserve spots early. We have fun wherever we go.
Jul 17, 2009
We are in the full swing of summer heat. With increase in temperature and heavy rains, there have been ongoing concerns of water quality of the bay.
It is especially of a concern when there is a heavy rain creating storm water runoffs. We have a large storm water storage upstream and need to be mindful of the discharge of large amount of stormwater.
Minimum, you should take a quick shower after an immersion. We keep anti-bacterial soap around and use if you need to. If you are sick and low in immune system, it might not be a good idea to get into the water.
Water beyond the bridge is "cleaner". There are sampling stations where public bathing is allowed and there have been beach closures. It is best to know and to prevent it.
If you have rash or itchyness, you should go and see a doctor who is familiar with water borne illnesses. It is not we have a special problem around the club, it is a problem increasingly so over the years with growing urban areas and storm water processing.
If you have an open cut, it is best to keep out. Sometimes, I use Crazy Glue over the cut to seal it.
Have a great summer and stay healthy.
Jul 14, 2009
Glicker Launches into the Ocean Wave!
A gleeful Oscar Chalupsky, full of concern and empathy (NOT) for the beanpole New Yorker, called from the finish of the race to tell me of Joe Glickman's adventure at the start.
"Hey Rob, you'll be pleased to know I just had a real organic sand enema," said the hapless American. "And the really good thing is that I did it in front of everyone. And it's on video. I got a proper hide-whipping!"
Happily, Andrew King of D4 Productions was at the beach filming and he sent me some footage.
"Joe Glickman gets a real Durban shorebreak welcome as Oscar lends his support," King said, describing the video clip. "Michelle Eray makes it look easy whilst Clint Pretorius doesn't even get his hair wet."
Video clip courtesy of Andrew King of D4 Productions who was on the beach when NY based adventure writer Joe Glickman attempted to put to sea in his surfski.... watch the video to see what happened next!
Jul 12, 2009
Jul 11, 2009
The youth and an adult leader from the 68th Precinct (Park Slope) arrived a little late but still with plenty of time to get out on the water. Once all the youth and Sebago helpers were on the water we paddled out under the Belt Parkway Bridge, beached for a break, and then paddled back to Sebago. Back at the club we washed boats, put gear away, played volleyball, ate lots of hamburgers and hot dogs, celebrated birthdays with a cake, and said goodbye.
All in all it was a good day. The weather and the water were nearly perfect. I am glad I volunteered. I had the opportunity to paddle and catch a few rays, meet some great young people, reconnect with Sebago members, and meet a few members I had not met or paddled with before. I have posted photos from the paddle at Picasa.
Jul 8, 2009
Good thing there were 20 kayakers there to set them straight.
(er, of course taking yet another swing at the poor Fail Bloggers a year and a half after the original post, instead of actually blogging tonight, might just = Blog Fail)
Jul 6, 2009
The only thing missing this weekend was Minh. How long should these veggies cook? Oh, if only Minh were here! Where do we keep that thing? Minh knows. And so it went, from Friday to Monday.
So, if you go, plan to go with Minh, and plan to have a fun time. I paddled a bit, walked a bit and snoozed a bit every day. What could be better?