New York City Water Trail Association
Fecal bacteria in the Bronx River rivals the Gowanus Canal. After heavy rains, the borough's namesake waterway gets especially filthy. Swimming is out. Boating is OK.
New testing reveals that the Westchester-to-East River waterway now has levels of fecal bacteria to rival the notorious Gowanus Canal, a federal Superfund cleanup site, according to an article in the New York Daily News.
Testing by the New York City Water Trail Association says the levels of enterococcus, a fecal bacterium, is especially bad after heavy rainfall, when New York’s antiquated sewage and storm drain system dumps excess wastewater into area rivers.
“The numbers are consistently high,” said Sam Marquand, who has been collecting samples near Hunts Point Riverside Park. “Even without the rain, the numbers are very high.”
Marquand and other volunteers have been collecting samples from across the city since May. Two points along the Bronx River — the Hunts Point Riverside Park and the newly opened Starlight Park — have unusually high amounts of bacteria.
“It’s not just regular runoff,” a worried Marquand said. “Stuff is just ending up in the river without being treated and there is no way of knowing right now where it's coming from.”
A boom that catches garbage in the Bronx River catches plenty.
Only the infamous Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn has more bacteria.
The good news? You shouldn’t be swimming in the river anyway, but boating is all right, said Rob Buchanan, founder of the New York City Water Trail Association.
“Boating is actually a very good way to use a polluted waterway,” he said. “It gets the public invested and gets people interested in protecting the waterway.”
The Department of Environmental Protection says it has stepped up efforts to curb trash and sewage problems in the river, including efforts to reduce storm water overflows.
Waterway advocates hope that more testing could force the city to reevaluate the sewage system around the Bronx River. "People are out there swimming in the river everyday and they should know what they're up against” Marquand said.
"People need to be aware of these things so we can change them."
Report: Bronx River is almost as bad as the Gowanus Canal for fecal bacteria
New York Daily News - July 4, 2013 - By Denis Slattery