2002-09-28 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

Press releases on the disappearing wetland of the Jamaica Bay never mention the high level of nitrogen pollution that fertilizes the bay's ecosystem. But the fertilized sea lettuce (ulva-green algae attached to rocks and bottles (or floating) is mentioned as a possible cause. It 'mats' at the center of the islands and in doing so may be inhibiting growth and preventing drainage.

The islands buffer wave action and use up the fertility for growth. But when is a good thing too much? Has the fertility been acting as a poison to grass growth? Who knows but the NYC Department Of Environmental Protection has been monitoring the problem its sewage threatens plants cause from treated effluents.

The agency also has pilot projects running to remove the excess nitrogen pollution. Various bacterial action "engineered gizmos" exist at the 26th Ward Sewage Treatment Plant in Brooklyn and guests have been invited to observe they're functioning.

Reportedly the agency is ready to install some "gizmos" for actual operation soon but more public information needs to be released.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation did give the protection agency permission to increase nitrogen pollution in the bay - even with the addition of "centrates" from 2 huge sewage sludge dewatering centrifuges at the 26th ward and Jamaica Plants - but with a time limit for reducing the pollution to acceptable levels.

The filling of holes in the bay bottom "borrow pits" has been viewed as one way of avoiding costs of new technology (gizmos) by increasing the flushing of nitrogen pollution out of the bay. But litigation is requiring the protection agency into "gizmo installation".

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