December 22 2011
SALTWATER MARSH RESTORATION–NEXT PHASE BEGINS !!!!!!
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers are pleased to announce that the next phase of the Marsh Restoration efforts in Jamaica Bay have begun!! At the time of this posting tug boats are moving dredge pipes into place in the western portion of Jamaica Bay adjacent to the eastern side of Ruffle Bar. This will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to pump the sand needed for this project onto the Northern Portion of Yellow Bar Marsh where it will be used to create 40 new acres of marsh land . This area is extremely degraded and this project will be a big plus for the bay. It is something that we have been fighting for for quite some time. The 16 million dollar project should be a big shot in the arm to the salt water marshes in this area of the bay and hopefully save this marsh island that has been carbon dated to over 1200 years old and noted for the tremendous life that it supports!!
The following notice was released with the details for the placement of the dredged material :
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company will have the Great Lakes 107 barge (60′ x 30′) anchored in (PA) 40-35-10″N, 073-51-08″W about 130 yards east of Beach Channel LB 3 (LLNR 34400). A 30 inch diameter submerged pipeline will be installed between the barge and Yellow Bar Hassock, Black Wall Marsh, and Rulers Bar. The Derrick Barge MOBRO 1221 (144′ x 48′), Tug Bayou Dawn (70′ x 23′), and a raft of 30″ pipeline (800’x61′) will be on scene and lit as required by 33 CFR 88.15. The submerged pipeline will cross Runway Channel between The Raunt Channel Buoy 5 (LLNR 34645) and The Raunt Channel Buoy 6 (LLNR 34650). The top of the 30 inch pipeline will be at approximately 10 feet MLLW. Work hours are 7 days per week during daylight hours. The barge will be manned 24 / 7 once pumping begins in mid January. (First District LNM 51)
Sandy Hook Channel Dredging:
Dredging is beginning approximately 5 January 2012 between Sandy Hook Channel Lighted Gong Buoy 11 (LLNR 35155) and Lighted Gong Buoy 17 (LLNR 35175). The hours of operation are 7 days a week, 24 hours a week. On scene is the dredge B. E. LINDHOLM and attendant plant that will be lit at night and monitoring VHF-FM 13 and 16. After passing arrangements have been made mariners are requested to use extreme caution and transit the area at their slowest safe speed to create minimum wake. (First District LNM 48)
See More Photos of the Restoration Site Here
November 27 2011
Jamaica Bay Taskforce Meeting Highlights
The meeting was packed with a full room including many agency and elected officials or their representatives.
For those who could not make it the following are some of the highlights of the discussions that took place at the Nov 17 Taskforce meeting:
I) NYCDEP Oyster pilot project and Eelgrass plots and algae Turf Scrubber
DEP has a large bed of oysters in the waters of Jamaica Bay off of Dubis Point. They are encouraged to date on the growth they are recording and it is the first oyster bed in the waters of the bay that is not enclosed in a cage. In addition they have oysters growing on reef balls in Gerritsen Creek which are likewise showing very good growth rates. The question of survivability seems to have been answered the next question is can we get the oysters to reproduce and become self sustaining within the bay. Professor Levington of Stony Brook has shown that oysters will grow three times faster in the waters of Jamacia Bay than in all comparison sites,including out at shelter island. The Eelgrass plots will be expanded with the additional factor of sediment movement being factored in as some of the plots were buried by the sifting sands. The new plots will include up to 8000 plants. THe algae turf scrubber,located at the Rockaway plant, has proven to be workable and will be expanded and will be one more piece of the puzzle in removing the nitrogen loading of the bay.
II) ACOE Marsh Restoration –next phase–Lenny Houston reports that the next phase will be Yellow Bar Hassock which is the largest oldest section of marsh in the western portion of the bay. The Northern portion has seriously degraded and it is here where the corps will attempt to restore 40 acres with possible sand placement in February of 2012. If possible they will attempt to also place sand at Rulers Bar and Blackwall , located near the yellow bar project , in the hopes that natural recruitment will occurr and if not future plantings of Marsh plants can be done as well.
III) DEC presentation on the JFK SPDES permit
Vennittia Lennon , The new head of DEC region 2, introduced herself to the group and ,along with DEC reps Jean Occidental and Sebastian Zacharias , gave a brief history of the JFK SPDES history and current status. They than fielded questions from the floor. It was clear from the numerous questions that the environmental groups were aware that the port authority has 26 large outfall pipes that deposit all runoff from JFK , including over one million gallons of harmful deicing fluids every winter, directly into the waters of Jamaica Bay and that they wanted the state to finally take a more forceful approach to getting the port authority to adopt policies that are in place in many airports throughtout the nation where retention , reuse and recycling takes place. Some who spoke indicated that it appeared that there were two sets of rules enforced by the DEC . One for the small homeowner or business that is extremely strict interpretation of the law and the other for large entities such as the port authority who cause tremendous ecological damage and are giving a permit to do so. It was pointed out to the DEC that the clean water act has provisions for citizen suits to take place and that such may be the future should the DEC not fulfill their regulatory obligations to protect the waters of the bay.
November 17 2011
GOOD NEWS ON THE MENHADDEN ISSUE –ASFMC agrees to set limits and address overfishing !!!
As reported here previously the menhadden, known locally as bunker, issue has been one of grave concern. These oily fish that do not receive much attention have been nicknamed “the most important fish in the sea” by many environmentalists and fishermen. They form the base species in the food chain for almost every other large species of fish and used to run in schools that numbered in the millions. Their stock has dropped, based on information from the Atlantic States Marine Fishing Commission-ASMCF- over 88% in the last 25 years. This can almost be solely attributed to one corporation Omega Protein and their vast vaccum ship fleet. Yet last week due to overwhelming public comment the ASMFC finally decided to put the politics aside and agree to set catch limits in order to save this critical species. The comments in favor of such were over 91,000 compared to only 35 advocating that no action be taken. You can read more hear …and while this is great news we will have to watch to see that it is implemented and not turned back by the powerful corporate entities who have controlled the discussion on this issue for so long.
November 5 2011
BORROW PITS –SNEAKING BACK INTO THE PICUTRE????
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers participated in a troubling conference call ,with one of the groups involved with the “Dredge Material Management Plan” DMMP. This group works to develop ideas on options for use and placement of “dredge material” from the various NY/NJ Harbor deepening projects. Some of this material is “clean” material such as the sand used, from the Ambrose Anchorage area, for marsh restoration and beach replenishment and other sediment is highly contaminated and cannot be used for such purposes or even to be dumped out in the ocean as the federal government prohibits such due to the contaminant level. What we were informed is that –with more of the future dredging projects, including the passaic river and the van kull areas, containing dangerous toxins the discussion of where to place such sediment has taken an alarming turn. The old and previously rejected concept of using the “borrow pits” (see here for a history) of Jamaica Bay has been once again been put forth as a possible option by NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) as well as the Port Authority. This outrageous idea of dumping highly contaminated sediment into the deeper areas of Jamaica Bay has been proposed and rejected before. That rejection took the form of hundreds of bay enthusiasts, and elected officials, turning out to speak out against a Port Authority plan that would dump millions of cubic yards of sediment ,that is so contaminated that the federal government prohibits its placement in the vast waters of the atlantic ocean, into the contained waters of Jamaica Bay. These toxins would ultimately work their way into every portion of the food chain of this estuary and we will vigourously oppose any such plan. The Ecowatchers will keep all posted of this ominous threat. Just makes you wonder what type of environmental “neighbor” we have in a Port Authority that ; dumps millions of gallons of harmful deicing and anti icing fluids into the bay each year, proposes that the entire northern portion of the bay be destroyed thru their runway expansion plan, and proposes that we dump massive amounts of toxins, including pcb’s and heavy metals , into the waters of our bay !!
October 27 2011
Good News For Jamaica Bay !!!
Mayor Bloomberg ,Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar, and EPA Region 2 head Judith Enck hosted a joint news conference at which they signed an agreement to ensure that their respective levels of government, as well as their agencies, would here after work in a collobaritive effort to protect and preserve Jamaica Bay. The Mayor called Jamaica Bay ” perhaps the greatest natural treasure lying within the borders of any city in the within any city in the nation.” We could not agree more and are pleased to finally see Jamaica Bay gettiing the recognition that it deserves as an environmental jewel that needs to be preserved for future generations .See the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers interviewed by NY 1 about this development here as well as the New York Times article covering this event.
Port Authority Harmful Deicing Fluids subject of DEC investigation and water quality report —
October 15 2011
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers submitted comments regarding the water quality monitoring report that was recently completed by the NY/NJ Port authority at jfk. If you were not aware JFK ariport has 26 outfall pipes , many large enough to walk thru, that discharge all runoff from the airport tarmacs directly into the bay untreated. This includes harmful deicing fluids that take the oxygen out of the water and in some cases make it impossible for fish to survive. In the 2009/2010 winter they had at least 750,000 gallons of this fluid dumped directly into the bay. In addition this testing has revealed that toxins including heavy metals are also included in the runoff from the airport. Many airports have now adopted practices where they recapture the deicing fluids and runoff to treat and in some cases reuse. THe port authority refuses to do so and the state DEC , which is mandated under the clean water act to regulate these discharges has yet to force the airport to address these incredibly harmful practices. Considering that portions of the bay , including thurston and bergen basin are now not even meeting minimum criteria for dissolved oxygen it will be interesting to see if the DEC can finally get the port authority to take meaningful action. THe state has tried in the past but the Port authority has resisted and in some cases has tried to pass the buck saying that they are not responsible for their tenants, the airlines, which is a ridiculous position considering they are in charge of the airport. The Port Authority’s position on this issue, and their failure to take meaningful steps to address it, appears to be just another example of their disregard for not only the incredible natural resource that Jamaica Bay is but their duty to act as a responsible partner as the largest neighbor to this National Park.
Ecowatchers Advocacy Efforts—
October 1, 2011
The Ecowatchers had a busy September with a number of meetings scheduled to continue to advocate for the resources and restoration needed for the bay and to oppose the dangerous JFK airport expansion plan. The following is a summary:
September 14—Spoke with Colonel Boule and joined the ACOE tour of Jamaica Bay which highlighted the great success of the Elders East and West Marsh restoration projects.
September 19 met with Gateway national recreational area superintendent Linda Canzanallo to discuss the ongoing and future restoration projects as well as the airport expansion plan.
September 21 met with Army Corps., the NYS DEC, and NYC DEP to discuss the next phase of marsh restoration projects in Jamaica bay.
September 20 community board 14 presented Rebuttal presentation to the RPA airport expansion plan after which the board voted to oppose any expansion of JFK runway into the waters of Jamaica bay
September 29 met with Senator Schumer’s staff, at his Manhattan office in the am and then with senator Gellibrand’s staff, also at their Manhattan offices in the pm. Both offices brought up to speed on the various issues ongoing in Jamaica bay and the concern of the environmental community over the airport Expansion plan
The Ecowatchers realize that one of the most critical components to achieving goals set is to have the political representatives and the agencies infomed and involved in regards to the issues affecting the Bay.
Harmful algae bloom affects the Bay !!
September 1 2011
THe photos below show the greenish white water of a harmful algae bloom that developed in the bay this past August (2011). This bloom started in the western portion of the bay in the shallow waters of the mudflats off of “terrapin trail” (at the wildlfie refuge). The shallow waters laden with nitrogen and heated to temperatures in excess of 95 degrees F ,due to the heat wave, saw the bloom start and than expand out across the western waters of Jamaica Bay adjacent to Broad Channel. This water was anoxic with Dissolved oxygen readings of less than 1 mg per litre. Numerous dead crabs and fish could be seen and the sea gulls in the picture are feeding on their carcasses. Numerous complaints were made by local residents as the sulfur smell spread on the wind. This condition lasted a few days until it dispersed. This is an indication of the problems of high levels of nitrogen loading that the bay is experiencing and the recent nitrogen agreement reached with the city should help to address. However it underscores a point that the ecowatchers have been making for quite sometime and that is how critical the deep portions of the bay are as they act as heat sinks and refuge areas during times of heat waves . Recently “certain” agency representatives have started to bring up the issue of the bays borrow pits once again. These deeper portions that were created by dredging activity many years ago have attracted the interest of those who would like to fill them with contaminated fill from the nyc harbor deepening project. This fill costs up to 65 dollars per yard to send to upland facilities and could be sent into jamaica bay for as little as 5 dollars per yard. Multiply this by millions of yards and you get the picture. THe plan of attack would of course be to cloak it in science as a benefit to the bay. We have fought back these attempts before and will continue to in the future. But beyond the threat of contaminated fill many in the scientifitic community think that if we could return this bay to reflect its image in the 1600’s we would increase flushing action. What they do not realize is that you cannot return all aspect to that period of time such as the long lost tributaries that used to feed into the bay and the current nitrogen loading that factors so significantly in the blooms and low dissolved oxygen issues.
Great Article on Jamaica Bay in the NEw York Times!!!!!
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!!!!!!!!
On Monday June 27th the Nitrogen Agreement between the City of New York and the State DEC was Finalized! This agreement was the result of the Clean Water Act Lawsuit CWA brought by the Ecowatchers working with the NRDC, NY/NJ Baykeeper and the American Littoral Societey. The Announcement by the DEC finalizes a seven year long battle to get the NYD DEP to upgrade the four waste water treatment plants that release into the waters of Jamaica Bay. The agreement will have huge and lasting positive impacts for years to come and will mandate:
1) over $100,000,000 in plant upgrades that will ultimately reduce nitrogen out put into the bay by 50%
2) set aside $15,000,000 for Marsh restoration in the interior of Jamaica Bay.
3) add an additional 5 water qualtiy testing sites throughout the bay
4) Dramatically reduce the incidence of trans shipments of sludge material being brought into Jamaica Bay for treatment.
Read the full Ecowatchers Press Release Here
JUNE 15 2011
The Ecowatchers and the Stony Brook Rewearch team of Dr Jeffrey Levington and Mike Doall raised one of the four oyster cages that were left in over the winter in the waters of Jamaica Bay. The cages were quite encrusted with marine growth and proved a challenge to raise. The one cage inspected on this date showed a 25% rate of survivability with much of the mortality rate appearing to be a result of sediment build up within the cage. The remainder of the cages will be raised and inspected and the cages may be raised slightly to address the sediment issue.
JAMAICA BAY TASK FORCE MEETING
Ecowatchers throw switch to start up new CSO facility!
—On May 12 2011 the new state of the art $400,000,000 DEP CSO facility was placed on line. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, held on the facilities grounds on Ralph avenue, Commissioner Holloway cited the Ecowatchers long term efforts to address waste treatment pollution in Jamaica Bay and asked that Dan Mundy SR perform the honors of throwing the switch to officially start up the plant and put it into operation. This plant can hold up to 50 million gallons during a “rain event” which in the past would have overwhelmed the sewage treatment plants causing untreated sewage and floatable debris to be deposited into Jamaica Bay. Now that water will be held in the new facility, with all types of debris filtered out and removed, and than after the rain event is over the water is pumped back over to be treated at the treatment facility. This will have a tremendous impact on the health of the bay and the Ecowatchers commend the DEP and COmmissioner Holloway for this accomplishment. You can read more about this facility here.
What is the Most important fish in the sea ? According to Bruce Franklin’s book (The most important fish you never heard of ) it is Atlantic Menhaden . He makes a compelling case that it is the key component at the bottom of the food chain upon which almost every other major species of fish on the eastern seaboard is dependent. In addition they have played a critical role for centuries in filtering the waters of the bays and estuaries from the algae blooms that are found there. Recent studies indicate that their population has been reduced by over 88% in the last 25 years and are being over fished by the corporate giant OMEGA PROTEIN – if interested you can read more here.
Outraged Environmentalists and Bay Enthusiasts speak out !(Link to Ecowatchers presentation)
The April 7th Jamaica Bay Taskforce meeting saw a packed house meeting of over 150 people who turned out to discuss their very strong opposition to the recent plan by the Regional Planning Association to expand JFK airport by filling in and paving over the wetlands of Jamaica Bay within the protected boundaries of a National Park. Read more here including some of the news accounts of the night.
Congressman Wiener Speaks out against airport expansion
Ecowatchers on NY-1 news – rebutting JFK airport expansion plan –see story here.
Access link to real time monitoring station located in Jamaica Bay to see accurate and current data on: water temp, dissolved oxygen, chrorophyll, turbidity, wind speed, air temp, etc.
Numerous environmental groups outraged over the recent proposal to fill in and pave over Jamaica Bay to facilitate runway expansion forwarded a letter of opposition to this concept to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward on March 17 . You can read the letter here
Breaking News— A major threat has developed that threatens the future of Jamaica Bay as the Port Authority unveils a plan for a massive expansion of JFK Airport Runways. A Report released January 27 2011 ( report here http://www.rpa.org/pdf/RPA-Upgrading-to-World-Class.pdf specifically look at pages 150-154 ) has shocked and stunned Environmentalists . Destruction of wetlands and critical habitat unprecedented in a National Park . This proposal would fill in a large portion of the northern part of Jamaica Bay covering over salt water marsh lands , vital mud flats, and deep pits of the bay that are known to play host to some of the most significant concentrations of Striped Bass and Weakfish in the Northeast.The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have issued a press release at this time and are encouraging all concerned to contact their representatives . –see press release–http://jamaicabayecowatchers.org/?page_id=107