Earlier this month, Congressman Steve Israel called attention to a newly-released National Resources Defense Council report highlighting significant water quality issues at New York beaches and what can be done to mitigate them to ensure the safety of swimmers.
The NRDC report, entitled, “Testing the Waters 2013,” includes information on water quality, beach closings and swimming advisories at more than 3,000 U.S. beaches, including 361 New York beaches, 269 of which are located in Nassau, Suffolk, or Queens Counties.
According to the report, new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for allowable bacterial levels in recreational water deem a gastrointestinal risk of 36 illnesses for every 1,000 beachgoers an acceptable level. That means the EPA would find it acceptable if 1 in 28 swimmers got sick. The NRDC is calling this a “reckless and illegal failure” to protect the public.
Israel is calling on the EPA to review the NRDC’s report and to address the issues it raises. “When families enjoy a day at the beach this summer, they shouldn’t have to worry that they’ll end up ill from pathogens in the water,” he said.
“Right now, 1 in 28 swimmers may become ill from waterborne pathogens if they swim in water that the EPA deems acceptable. I find this simply unacceptable. The EPA needs to review the NRDC report and find a way forward in ensuring our beaches are clean and safe,” Israel continued.
The NRDC makes the following recommendations to stem the risks from polluted stormwater runoff, the most common cause of beach closings and swimming advisories:
- The EPA must update national clean water requirements for stormwater sources consistent with “green infrastructure" techniques;
- State and Federal authorities must enforce existing laws for stormwater and sewage pollution;
- Congress must increase funding for aging sewer systems repairs;
- Communities must ensure long-term financing is available to improve stormwater infrastructure;
- The EPA must adopt safeguards for recreational water quality and provide adequate funding for state monitoring and notification programs;
- Leaders must work to stop pollution at its source by protecting nature's pollution filters and flood barriers, and by improving the resilience of wastewater infrastructure to coastal flooding.
Learn more about the NRDC by visiting their website.
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