Written by Gary Simeone Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
It has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.
“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”
Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health.
“We are here tonight to discuss the county’s long term solution for the beach area and to get input from our residents,” said Mayor Spinello.
Spinello added that the city had spent approximately $50,000 in the last two years in monitoring and testing at the site and is planning to spend an additional $100,000.
In the studies conducted since 2009, elevated levels of bacteria including fecal coliform and enterococci were found within a nearby stream of Crescent Beach and discharging directly into Long Island Sound. The stream, which is 750 feet from the bathing beach, must attain favorable water quality standards according to the DOH even if the water quality is improved at Crescent Beach.
“The microbiological contamination of the stream has continued to be a problem and has caused the beach to remain closed for the past five years,” said DOH spokesperson Donald Irwin. “Our investigations also revealed elevated bacteria levels within the surrounding area storm water conveyance system.”
Irwin added that dye testing of sanitary septic systems in the area was performed to determine if the systems were responsible for contributing bacteria in the stream.
The City of Glen Cove is currently working with the Nassau County Department of Health to establish a water monitoring program to further investigate the sources and effects of the contamination in the nearby stream. The program will consist of collection and analysis of surface water samples from four different locations at the beach and stream and documentation of environmental conditions observed at the time of sampling.
“Upon completion of the monitoring program, the city will coordinate with the DOH to review the results and determine if Crescent Beach will open for the 2014 season,” said Mayor Spinello.
Spinello added that the “reality of the situation is that sewers will eventually need to be put into place in the area.”
McQuair said the city would look into the mapping and inspection of septic systems that are already in place.
“We’re exploring the possibility of having people pump their systems out on a three year basis,” said McQuair. “We’re also looking into construction standards for septic systems and having them inspected on a routine basis to see if they are in a state of failure.”
Lisa Dorfman, a former Glen Cove resident who grew up in the area surrounding Crescent Beach, said that she utilized the area frequently when she was a little girl in her mother’s house.
“My mother still lives in her house near the beach and we use to play and enjoy ourselves on Crescent Beach all the time. It is a place that is very dear to her heart,” said Dorfman.
She said she hopes the state or county come up with a solution in that area, “because it is a shame to have such a beautiful beach closed to the public.”
A Crescent Beach Road resident said that the ideal solution is to get a sewer system in place.
“When I walk by the area with my husband we can smell the runoff from the stream. It is very strong.”
She added that she cannot even have a summer barbecue at her beach house because the kids can’t go in the water.
“I worry not for just myself or my family but for the whole community.”