Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sewage Dumping on Long Island, NY

Update: The Central Long Island Chapter will be hosting another meeting on on March 1, 2011 with the Comissioner of Nassau County Public Works speaking on the sewage dumping in Reynold's Channel and answering questions from the public on what the County is doing to remedy this situation and fix the problems at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.

The Central Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation hosted a capacity crowd on January 20, 2011 at the Long Beach Public Library. Most of the crowd had turned out to hear Scott Bochner, a local surfer and resident turned environmental activist, speak about his discovery of the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant's illegal dumping of sewage sludge into the local waters of Reynold's Channel.

After Scott started noticing the brown, discolored water in the Bay close to his home he started posting videos of the discharge on YouTube. He then got on the phone and began calling every elected official, local and state health and environmental agency, and members of the press to bring attention to this disgusting and flagrant pollution of the local water ways.

With the help of an online petition and some local media attention, Scott and a group of other like-minded individuals dubbed the Sludge Stoppers, finally succeeded into shaming and embarassing the Nassau County Executive, who is ultimately responsible for this County-run facility, into finally beginning to take some corrective steps to fix what seems like a comedy of errors at the poorly run and neglected sewage treatment plant, something the hollow threats of fines from the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation were unable to accomplish.

Scott, the Sludge Stoppers, and other concerned citizens are now keeping a close eye on the County and the plant to make sure the dumping stops and the County follows through on their promises to change the management, fix broken equipment and upgrade the facility and its operations. The energy that was created by Scott's presentation at the Surfrider meeting bred a new citizen task force that will help monitor the plant's activities and push the County to take even more steps to protect the health of its local waterways and citizens, including faster water testing, timely and online posting of water quality data, and public notification of future sewage discharges to protect the people that fish, swim, and otherwise recreate in these waters.

Scott's speech really illustrated the power of one passionate person armed with a video camera and access to the internet to bring on change in the face of long-standing government neglect and abuse.

For more media coverage of this issue check out:

Bay Park Sewage Plant Still Dumping Waste In Fishing Waters

Ad Hoc Group: Stop Dumping Sewage in the Bay

Activists want Bay Park sewage discharges to stop