The Town of North Hempstead in conjunction with the Nassau County Department of Health has found that the water quality levels in Manhasset Bay are good. Sources monitoring the bay have said, if they were required to assure the public that a beach on the bay was safe for bathers, they would do so. Weekly open water testing procedures, which began last year, confirm this finding.
Chief Bay Constable Mallory Nathan gathers a water sample.
The tests consist of obtaining water samples from five locations in the bay. Port News was permitted to participate in observing this sampling, which was conducted by the bay constable squad of the Town of North Hempstead. The samples were drawn from the following five locations on the Bay: off Leeds Pond, Kenilworth on the Kings Point Shore, Manorhaven Beach, buoy # 4 at the center of the bay and Baxter Beach.
Mallory Nathan, chief of the Town of North Hempstead's Bay Constables drew the test samples and was accompanied by Joel Ziev, an advisor to the town on waterfront issues since 1998. In the morning hours, Nathan cast off the town launch from the bay constables' quarters on the town dock and headed for the first test spot off Leeds Pond. On arrival, Nathan removed a sanitized, chemically treated bottle and scooped up over eight ounces of water. He logged the air temperature as 84 degrees and the sample as 72 degrees. The bottle was sealed, logged in and placed in a container. Samples were returned to the constables' quarters where they were refrigerated to await pickup by the county. Testing is conducted during the beach season and the samples analyzed by the Nassau County Health Labs.
The test results are reviewed by the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, which is composed of various communities that border on the bay. Patrice Bennward, the director of the committee, said that the test results were 'remarkably good' in 2004, the first full year of open water testing. The committee focuses on what it calls 'non-point source pollution' which originates on land and washes into the bay. Committee members have identified or 'tagged' the storm sewers that empty into the bay as a means of focusing on the origins of pollution. Bennward has called cigarette butts one of the most common forms of pollution. It has been said that a cigarette thrown in the street will eventually finds its way to the bay.
Nathan and Ziev were pleased with the two-year testing program in part because it clearly indicated that the quality of water was indeed good. Ziev, a former chairman of the Waterfront Advisory Commission, said, "People are swimming off boats, docks and beaches in the bay which makes consistent testing of water quality important."
Nassau County has several guidelines to gauge water quality. A heavy rainfall may require a 'pre-emptive closing' of a beach subjected to over one-half inch of rain in a 24 hour period. Past experience in the subsequent improvement of water quality after such a rainfall and prompt testing are used as guidelines to reopen the beach.
Town Councilman Fred L. Pollack has oversight responsibility for Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor. Pollack has an in-depth knowledge of waterfront issues and has written much of the waterfront environmental legislation in chapters 42 and 69 in the town code. Pollack, who closely monitors water quality levels, is pleased that the test results conducted to date in 2005 are consistently as good as those in 2004. He said, "should this trend continue and we have two full years of experience of acceptable water quality, he would strongly recommend the reopening of Manorhaven Beach in 2006."
Mallory Nathan, who has patrolled the bay since 1998, offered some observations of the bay's water and the 2000 boaters who call the bay their homeport. He labeled plastic bags dangerous since they often float on the surface and can clog a boat's engines. Nathan's squad is instructed to be alert around waterfront construction sites and vessels that are leaking fuel. The enforcement of these regulations may occur from the town constables, county police or the Coast Guard.
In the course of their patrols, the constables are constantly striving to remove hazards to navigation from the bay. The hazards removed extend from the small plastic bags to portions of docks that have broken away. Enforcement of clean water also extends to the town dock where trash baskets are cleared of coffee cups and other trash twice a day. Of particular concern is the constables' encouragement of the use of the town's pump out facilities. The facilities are located on the town dock and on the pump out boat. The service is free.
Nathan is a member of the board of directors of the New York State Harbor Master and Bay Constables Association and chairs the committee raising funds for Constable Richard Brooks of Babylon, Long Island, who was recently killed in the line of duty. Brooks was retired from the New York City Police Department. Nathan pointed out the expanded mooring field for town residents and said the available moorings are filling up fast.
Town of North Hempstead residents may get further information through the town's website at http://www.northhempstead.com/.