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Manhasset Bay is clean, safe for swimmers, water study says

A recent water quality study said Manhasset Bay,

A recent water quality study said Manhasset Bay, seen here in Port Washington on Oct. 27, 2017, is safe for swimming. Credit: Jeff Bachner

A recently released water-quality study has concluded that Manhasset Bay is safe for swimming and that residents should continue working to keep the shores pristine.

The Manhasset Bay Protection Committee released its 2018 quality analysis last month, the first report of its kind in a decade. The study references water samples collected between summer 2009 and summer 2015 at six spots along Manhasset Bay. The water samples were checked for two bacteria — fecal coliform and enterococcus.

“The water quality on Manhasset Bay has not gotten worse over this sampling time period,” the study states. “Given the many major storms (Sandy and Irene) and growth of population, no discernible pattern of increased bacteria was evident.”

The study examines fecal coliform and enterococcus because state and federal officials require bodies of water to show low levels of those bacteria if the public will be swimming or fishing there, said Sarah Deonarine, the protection committee’s executive director.

“People want to jump off their boats and into the water in the summertime,” she said. “And if the bay isn’t clean, there’s a lot of bad things that can result.”

The study, prepared by Connecticut-based environmental engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill, found that Manhasset Bay beaches are generally safe except within a day of rainfall, when higher bacteria levels are present. The eastern side of the bay has the highest bacteria concentration, the study indicated.

The protection committee is a multigovernment group that works to keep the bay clean. Its members include officials from Nassau County, the Town of North Hempstead and several villages, including Flower Hill and Baxter Estates.

Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson said the report reflects the committee’s hard work in promoting safe water quality.

Committee members said the report helps identify sources of water pollution, sets a baseline for future water testing and helps them develop next steps for further cleaning the bay. The report lists ways residents can help, including not putting anything but water down a storm drain and not pouring grease or oil down household sinks.

Flower Hill Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington said residents and the village itself are doing their part. The village put filtration systems in its catch basins a few years ago to clean storm-water runoff.

“We’re trying to catch it [storm water] before it reaches the bay and clean out some of the pollutants,” he said.

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