Suffolk County, NY - December 23, 2015 - On December 15, 2015, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services issued an advisory to residents to take precautions before recreating on the tidal portion of the Peconic River (east of Grangebel Park) due to the possible residual effects of partially treated wastewater discharged from the Riverhead sewage treatment plant. A precautionary advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
The treatment plant is currently being upgraded, thereby disrupting normal operations of the plant’s treatment process. Corrective actions at the treatment plant have been implemented, and the situation improved significantly. The cloudy discharge plume, resulting from chlorinated effluent, has abated. However, a recent sample showed elevated levels of coliform bacteria, and there is potential that plant operations could be further disrupted as the plant proceeds with upgrades.
Any possible future disruptions will be reported by the facility, but in the meantime, a precautionary advisory will remain in place. Suffolk County Health officials continue to work closely with the NYSDEC, who has jurisdiction over the permitting and enforcement at the facility. The New York State Department of Health has also been consulted.
As a precautionary measure, residents are advised to avoid contact with waters in this tidal portion of the Peconic River until permanent upgrades at the plant are complete, and the plant is operating adequately as designed. The first major permanent upgrade is estimated to be completed by February 2016, and plant operations will be reassessed at that time. In the meantime, residents are advised to keep children and pets away from the area, as well. If contact with the water does occur, residents should wash hands after swimming or recreating in the water, especially before eating, and shower when done recreating for the day to wash off water and dirt. Seek medical attention if after exposure you experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation, or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
Additional information may be disseminated if circumstances change, or if health officials learn more about the situation.