Cecilia DowdSep 12, 2017, 8:55 pmSep 12, 2017, 8:56 pm

Report: Highest level of algae ever recorded in LI found in Great South Bay

Scientists with Clean Water Partnership find high levels of nitrogen from sewage, fertilizers in waterways


A new report released on Tuesday by the Clean Water Partnership contains some dismal news for Long Island’s waterways: harmful algal blooms are on the rise.

The study which began in May found excessive nitrogen in Long Island waters, attributed to sewage and fertilizer runoff.

“If we do nothing, we will lose the value of Long Island's water resources. And that's a huge loss,” said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Esposito believes the protection of coastal and drinking water is Long Island's greatest challenge.

“The problem is getting a bit worse. Algae blooms, hypoxia, and degradation of water quality across Long Island are serious threats to Long Island's health, economy and sustainability,” she said.

And according to scientists, those algal blooms like the one recorded in May that extended from Nassau County all the way to into Southampton are leading to paralytic shellfish bed closures.

Brown tide or algal bloom can be toxic to clams and can inhibit water clarity which can lead to the loss of seagrass beds, according to Dr. Christopher Goebler.

“The entire South Shore had brown tide at different levels through the summer. The worst was in Great South Bay. That bloom persisted almost until August and the highest cell densities that we saw, over 2.3 million cells per milliliter, is the highest level ever recorded on Long Island,” Dr. Goebler said.

While environmentalists noted that elected officials have worked with them on this issue, they said the problem continues to worsen and more needs to be done.

“If we do nothing we will lose our seagrass beds, shellfish beds, maritime culture, beaches will have more closures and water will be more polluted,” Esposito said.

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Oyster Bay, New York