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'A Positive Week for Water Quality'

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 10:48

Bacteria levels dropped to some of their lowest numbers all summer this week at many water bodies Concerned Citizens of Montauk tests, including some with consistently high levels like East Creek at Lake Montauk, which showed low levels of the enterococcus bacteria for the first time since March.

"This was a positive week for water quality!" Kate Rossi-Snook, an environmental advocate with C.C.O.M, wrote of the results. 

Although the culvert end of Northwest Creek tested surprisingly high for enterrococcus, concentrations of blue-green algae in Fort Pond dropped below the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation threshold for a bloom, but remain at high risk.

C.C.O.M. monitors Fort Pond for blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, in partnership with the Gobler Lab at Stony Brook Southampton. The samples it collects are sent to the lab for testing. This week's tests again showed no blue-green algal bloom in Big Reed Pond, where one had been present before. 

C.C.O.M. also tests water bodies in Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, and Springs for the bacteria enterococcus. Those results are shared on the Surfrider Foundation's Blue Water Task Force online portal. Entero levels are often elevated, posing a risk to human health, following "heavy rains, extreme high tides, or warm water temperatures," Ms. Rossi-Snook explained.

Of the 25 sites tested this week, only two showed high entero levels. The Northwest Creek culvert testing site indicated disproportionately high bacteria levels -- 8,164 -- nearly 79 times the threshold considered a risk to human health (entero levels at 104 and above are considered a risk). Ms. Rossi-Snook speculated, however, that the source for the high entero presence may have been a nearby animal. Testing at the Route 27 kayak launch site at Georgica Pond, which revealed the second highest bacterial level, boasted a much lower number by comparison -- 285. 

Sampling at Pussy's Pond in East Hampton showed medium entero levels, but the remaining 22 sites tested all indicated low bacteria levels. C.C.O.M. will continue its testing weekly until October. 

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