On Aug. 31, Riverkeeper released the latest water quality data for the dozens of sites it tests between New York City and upstate Waterford, including the beach at Matthiessen Park in Irvington.

The water tested off of Irvington had “acceptable” levels of fecal contamination on Aug. 16. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines “acceptable” as an enterococcus count between 0-60. For counts higher than 60, Riverkeeper issues a beach advisory. Enterococcus is a bacterium that lives in the intestines of warm-blood animals, according to Riverkeeper, and that indicates the presence of feces.

From May to October, Riverkeeper collects monthly samples with help from staff at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Rockland County and at CUNY Queens College. Lamont-Doherty operates a field station at the end of the Piermont Pier, across the river from Irvington.

On the Riverkeeper website, the data for Irvington starts in 2008. Since then, there were three beach advisories — on May 17, 2011, Sept. 15, 2011, and April 4, 2017. In contrast, the beach advisories for the Piermont Pier would fill the rest of this column. Near the end of the pier are two outfall pipes for the Orangetown Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The data is important since Matthiessen Park reopened to the public on July 31, following renovations that started in 2020. Riverkeeper’s test sites do not include the beaches at Waterfront Park in Dobbs Ferry and Kinnally Cove in Hastings. In Dobbs Ferry and Irvington, kayakers keep their boats on racks near the beaches.

Riverkeeper also has data for test sites along the Saw Mill River, all of which had unacceptable levels of fecal contamination on July 22, including spots in Ardsley (148) and Hastings (122). The worst was at Walsh Road in downtown Yonkers (959).

In an email blast about the latest results, from one of Riverkeeper’s two interim co-leaders, Dan Shapley, it was noted that “Investing in continued water quality improvements is essential to meeting the public’s desire for in- and on-water recreation, and that desire will only grow as climate change makes our summers heat up.” 

For more information, visit riverkeeper.org and then click on Water Quality.

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