Water clarity and algae blooms and fecal coliform, oh my!
With miles and miles of coastline, Long Islanders should be rightfully concerned about the water quality in our surrounding bays and harbors. While we love our swimming and water sports, our waters are more than just a summer playground. Long Island’s North and South Shore bays, harbors and estuaries, as well as the sound and the ocean also feed us. Healthy waters yield healthy fin and shellfish. Vigilant monitoring of our waters is essential in order to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone from wading children in Great South Bay to commercial clammers in Huntington Bay.
One of the champions of our local waters is Stony Brook professor Chris Gobler, who formed the Gobler Laboratory at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. A passionate environmentalist, Gobler was motivated by a bayman’s account of a brown tide that not only devastated the local clam fishery, but the livelihood of the baymen as well.
Recently Gobler teamed up with News12 Long Island to create the Long Island Water Quality Index, a weekly report on the condition of our most valuable resource. From Hewlett Bay to Peconic Bay on the South Shore, and Hempstead Harbor to Mount Sinai Harbor on the North Shore, the Water Quality Index will, each week, measure and report on six water quality parameters: temperature, water clarity, dissolved oxygen (poor oxygen levels are lethal to aquatic life), chlorophyll (a catalyst for all algae), fecal coliform bacteria (from runoff of animal or human waste) and harmful algal blooms (brown, red or rust tides). Based on these parameters, the Water Quality Index will rate (good, fair or poor) the overall condition of more than two dozen bodies of water across Long Island. Gobler is hopeful that these reports will prove to be an important resource in the ongoing effort to improve the water quality across Long Island.