New York 2013 Beach Water Quality Summary
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act helps states and local governments develop monitoring programs to protect public health. Through these programs local officials test beach water for bacteria and issue closings or advisories when bacteria levels exceed a certain threshold. The EPA recently issued a new Beach Action Value (BAV), which is a more protective threshold than the national allowable bacteria levels used in previous years to trigger beach advisories. The EPA considers the BAV to be a "conservative, precautionary tool for making beach notification decisions." While the use of the BAV is currently optional, the EPA's proposed National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants would require states receiving BEACH Act funding to use the BAV to trigger beach notifications. In light of this information, in assessing 2013 beach water quality NRDC has chosen to use the BAV in order to best protect beachgoers from water quality health risks.
New York is the only state with both marine and Great Lakes coastlines. There are 127 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, 231 miles of shorefront on Long Island Sound, 548 miles of Long Island bayfront, and 83 miles of shorefront on islands off the Long Island coast. In addition to these marine coastlines, there are more than 200 miles of freshwater shoreline on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Nearly all of the state's coastal beaches are on Atlantic waters. The coastal beach monitoring program in New York is administered by the New York State Department of Health. The New York City Department of Health posts closings and advisories for beaches in the New York City area. Additionally, beachgoers can learn about advisories and closings in the Great Lakes areas on the BeachCast website.
What Does Beach Water Monitoring Show?
In 2013, New York reported 362 beaches, of which 359 were monitored. Of all reported beach monitoring samples, 13% exceeded the Beach Action Values (BAV) of 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units (cfu) per 100 ml marine or estuarine water in a single sample and 190 E. coli bacteria cfu/100 ml for freshwater in a single sample. NRDC considers all reported samples individually (without averaging) when calculating the percent exceedance rates in this analysis. This includes duplicate samples and reported samples taken outside the official beach season, if any.
The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the BAV in 2013 were Wright Park East Beach in Chautauqua County (50%), Copiague Harbor Beach in Suffolk County (50%), Douglaston Homeowners Association Beach in Queens County (46%), Ontario Beach in Monroe County (40%), and Wright Park West Beach in Chautauqua County (38%).
New York Water Quality Trend 2009–2013
The bar chart below illustrates the general trend of beach water quality exceedance rates in New York over the past five years. Note that only samples from a common set of beaches monitored each year from 2009 to 2013 are included in the bar chart. Percent exceedance rates in 2009-2012 are based on the national single-sample maximum standards for designated beach areas of 104 enterococcus bacteria cfu/100 ml marine or estuarine water and 235 E. coli bacteria cfu/100 ml freshwater that were in place during those years. For comparison purposes, exceedance rates for 2013 are shown based on the historical national standards of 104 enterococcus bacteria cfu/100 ml marine or estuarine water and 235 E. coli bacteria cfu/ml freshwater as well as on the EPA's new Beach Action Values of 60 enterococcus bacteria cfu/100 ml marine or estuarine water and 190 E. coli bacteria cfu/100 ml freshwater.
Percent of Samples Exceeding Daily Bacterial Maximum for Beaches Reported 2009-2013
- % exceedance of national standard in place 2009-2012
- % exceedance of national BAV safety threshold
* Please note exceedance rates for 2013 are shown based on the new BAV safety threshold and the historical national standard for comparison purposes. Additionally, only samples from a common set of beaches monitored each year from 2009-2013 are included in the bar chart.
New York 2013 Monitoring Results