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Long Island News

Long Island's bay scallop crop crashes for the 3rd year in a row after stormy summer

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP

Stony Brook University scientists have found that wastewater runoff from this summer’s storms has flooded Long Island’s waterways with nitrogen pollution. The poor water quality is a threat to the shellfish industry.

Dr. Chris Gobler said every one of Long Island’s major estuaries and bays has been polluted with nitrogen, causing harmful algal blooms and low-oxygen dead zones, which threaten to decimate the bay scallop industry when harvest season starts next month.

Nitrogen in wastewater runoff has caused toxic algae, low-oxygen dead zones, or both, in every major estuary and bay on Long Island, according to Stony Brook University research.
Credit Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and The Nature Conservancy
Nitrogen in wastewater runoff has caused toxic algae, low-oxygen dead zones, or both, in every major estuary and bay on Long Island, according to Stony Brook University research.

“The bay scallop industry on eastern Long Island crashed in the last two years and this year, people were monitoring the bay scallops through July, and everything looked great,” Gobbler said. “And then in August, everything died.”

Gobler said the key to reducing nitrogen is to replace outdated underground septic systems with modern sewers.

That work is already underway in some parts of Long Island, but Gobler said the slow pace is not enough to keep up with increased rainfall due to global warming.