Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tell the EPA to raise water quality standards!

People swimming at Coney Island in 2010. Image via.

Everyone at Alive Structures got into the field of green infrastructure for a number of reasons, but for all of us one of the most important of those is improving local water quality. So we really appreciate that the folks at S.W.I.M. Coalition (Storm Water Infrastructure Matters) are on top of policy issues that affect water quality and safety. Currently, the EPA has a renewal of their beach pollution regulations on the docket, last updated in 1986.

The proposed standards are not strict enough. They allow for 90 averaging of pathogen levels, a period almost as long as New York City's beachgoing season. As S.W.I.M. put it in their email, "Under the proposal, the pathogen levels could be unacceptably high every Saturday during the beach season but the 90-day average may still meet the standards." And this does happen - Riverkeeper, a New York non-profit, tests water quality at a variety of locations around New York City. Their Pier 96 at West 56th St testing location is a boat launch and recreational kayaking spot for New Yorkers. Enterococcus counts (fecal pathogens) at Pier 96 failed water quality standards on four of the six testing days in 2011, and got as high as seven times the limit on one dirty day in May, but if the tests in the ~90 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are averaged the water quality was acceptable.


National Resources Defense Council has a petition to the EPA urging them to make these regulations stricter. Today's the last day to comment so we hope you'll sign!

Kids are particularly vulnerable to getting sick from dirty water. Image via.

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