City And Federal Officials Team To Clean Jamaica Bay
City and federal officials have signed an agreement to help clean up Jamaica Bay and turn it into what Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls “one great urban park.” NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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Jamaica Bay has come a long way, and city and federal officials are teaming up to make the once sludge-filled inlet even cleaner.
"There were a lot of harmful practices in the past, and now after many years of environmental groups, individuals looking to bring attention to it, we're starting to see their attention," said Dan Mundy, Jr. of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers.
On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an agreement to create a unified governing model for the 10,000 acre area, one that's long been overseen by the city and Washington completely separately.
"New York and New York harbor and all of its facilities are really a north star for what we can do for a great urban park in America," said Salazar.
"Even though these city and federal holdings sit next to one another like a jigsaw puzzle, they don't always fit well together," said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg said that Jamaica Bay will now be "one great urban park."
The Environmental Protection Agency also announced it would create a no discharge zone in the bay, meaning the at least 1,200 boats that use the area every season can't flush their own sewage into the water.
"The question I always have is, really, up until today you could discharge raw sewage in Jamaica Bay? That doesn't make much sense to me,” said Judith Enck of the EPA.
Much of the pollution comes from four sewage treatment plants along Jamaica Bay. They dump 35,000 pounds of nitrogen into the bay every day. The city has agreed to halve that over the next ten years.
Advocates commend that effort.
"So hopefully we can lick the water quality problem and then we also have to ensure we don't lose the remaining habitat that's in the marsh island in the bay and also in the periphery of the bay," said Brad Sewell of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
For those that live off the bay it means more.
"Wind surfing, swimming, kite boarding, kayaking," said Mundy.
It’s all been a long time coming.