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Long Island Reports Record-Breaking Toxic Algae

Jordan Bowman
An algal bloom from Flanders Bay at a Stony Brook University lab. Algal blooms deplete oxygen from the water and lead to fish kills. Some also release toxins that are harmful to people and pets.

A new study by the Clean Water Partnership finds that toxic algal blooms were discovered in every major bay and estuary across Long Island: 15 lakes and 20 beaches. This is the longest and most intense brown tide in Long Island’s recorded history.

Dr. Chris Gobler from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences says he’s never seen anything like it.

“Brown tide extended from Nassau County all the way to Southampton. So the entire South Shore had brown tide at different levels through the summer. The worst of it was in Great South Bay: that bloom persisted almost until August.”

Gobler says the main problem is Long Island’s outdated septic system. High nitrogen levels from sewage and fertilizers are the greatest pollutants.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says Long Island needs an action plan to fix the problem.

“If we do nothing, we will lose our seagrass beds, our shellfish beds, our maritime culture. Beaches will have more frequency of closure, home values could decrease and water will be more polluted.”

Governor Cuomo has pledged $2.5 billion to clean water infrastructure and improve water quality protection.