Strong storm water runoff from heavy rainfall has forced the temporary closing of shellfish harvesting areas in several Nassau and Suffolk towns, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said Thursday.
After a nor'easter dumped more than 3 inches of rain over parts of both counties, beginning Tuesday, the agency said the closures were "to protect the public health."
The excessive storm water runoff can carry "bacteria and other pathogens into adjacent surface waters, adversely affecting water quality in the enclosed creeks, coves, harbors and bays and causing shellfish in those areas to have an increased potential to be hazardous for use as food," the agency said in a news release.
The closures in Nassau County and the Town of Huntington went into effect at 3 p.m., Tuesday and in Southampton and East Hampton on Wednesday.
The agency will reopen areas as soon as possible, based on the results of water quality testing to be conducted on samples that will be collected from the affected areas over the next several days.
The areas where harvesting is temporarily prohibited include:
Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay (south shore): All of Hempstead Bay, East Bay and South Oyster Bay and their tributaries in the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay.
Town of North Hempstead: All of Hempstead Harbor south of a line extending from Prospect Point to Matinecock Point.
Town of Oyster Bay (north shore): All of Oyster Bay Harbor and all of Cold Spring Harbor south of a line extending easterly from the stone house on Plum Point (Centre Island) to the northerly side of the beach pavilion at West Neck Beach (Town of Huntington) on the eastern shore of Cold Spring Harbor; and all of Hempstead Harbor south of a line extending from Prospect Point to Matinecock Point.
Towns of Babylon and Islip: All the area of Great South Bay and its tributaries lying westerly of the northbound span of the Robert Moses Causeway bridges.
Town of Huntington: All of Northport Bay, Duck Island Harbor, Centerport Harbor, Lloyd Harbor and Huntington Bay south of a line extending easterly from the southernmost point of East Beach to the southernmost point of West Beach (also known as Sand City Beach) and, Cold Spring Harbor.
Town of Southampton: All of Sag Harbor and its tributaries and a portion of outer Sag Harbor.
Town of East Hampton: All of Northwest Harbor lying easterly of a line extending northeasterly from the westernmost point of land at the entrance to Northwest Creek, to the foot of Mile Hill Road; all of Northwest Creek; and a portion of outer Sag Harbor.
For a more detailed description of the closed areas, call the agency's Marine Resources office during normal business hours at 631-444-0492. Information also is at dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7765.html.