The summer of 2011 was tough on the city’s beaches. In July, a fire at a sewage treatment plant sent a wave of smoldering “material” down the Hudson River that temporarily shut down beaches in multiple boroughs. A month later, Hurricane Irene forced beachgoers indoors one one of the last weekends of summer. While those events caused closures at some of the city’s favorite beaches, closures due to something less apparent — high levels of bacteria in the water — were regular occurrences throughout the year at certain swimming spots.
The National Resources Defense Council released its annual report on the water quality at New York’s beaches on Wednesday. Covering 134 beaches in the New York City area, the report cites how often the level of bacteria in water samples taken from them exceeded the state’s criteria for safe swimming conditions. The bacteria often comes from sewage overflow during heavy rain.
The report also includes how many days the beaches were closed, or visitors were advised not to swim, because of health concerns.
MetroFocus wanted to know the five dirtiest beaches where people were allowed to swim in 2011. None of the city-owned beaches came close to making the list of dirtiest beaches. In 2011, a spokesperson for the New York City Health Department told Bed-Stuy Patch that private beaches are far more susceptible to closure due to high bacteria levels due to their locations.
1. Douglaston Homeowners Association Beach, Douglaston, Queens: This small privately owned beach, located on Shore Road between Beverly Road and Grosvenor Street, was sampled 69 times in 2011. Of the 69 samples, 42 percent contained bacteria levels exceeding the state’s safety standards for swimming. The beach was either closed or had a advisory of elevated bacteria levels posted 105 days last year.
2. Trinity Danish Young People’s Society Beach, Country Club, Bronx: Located at Dean Avenue, between Philips Avenue and Lafayette Avenue, the private beach owned by a sports club was sampled 66 times in 2011. Of the 66 samples, 23 percent exceeded the state’s safety standards, and the beach was closed or received an advisory 28 days in 2011.
3. Breezy Point, 219th Street Entrance, Queens: Breezy Point is at the western tip of the Rockaway Peninsula and the southern side of the beach, facing the Atlantic Ocean, is a popular swimming destination. However, the water on northern side of Breezy Point, which is located just south of Manhattan Beach, is apparently not so desirable. The beach at 219th Street was tested 22 times in 2011, and 23 percent of the samples exceeded the state’s standards. The beach was closed or received an advisory from the state 10 days last year.
4. Kiddie Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn: Located just east of Sheepshead Bay, the beach has been privately owned by the local property association since 1922. At the end of 2010, business owners were arrested for ignoring pipes that had been leaking raw sewage and grease into Shell Bank Creek, located a quarter-mile from the beach. That might have something to do with why 18 percent of the 66 samples taken in 2011 exceeded state standards and why the beach was closed 35 days last year.
5. American Turners Beach, Throggs Neck, Bronx: Owned by the American Turners Club, the beach is located just south of the Trinity Danish Young People’s Society. Eighteen percent of the 66 samples taken at the beach in 2011 exceeded state standards, and the beach was closed or received an advisory 27 days last year.