On Monday, the Westchester County Department of Health advised all recreational boaters and swimmers in Rye Harbor, Milton Harbor, Greenhaven, and Mamaroneck Harbor to avoid contact with Long Island Sound due to an ongoing sludge force main break.
By Bill Lawyer and Robin Jovanovich
On Monday, the Westchester County Department of Health advised all recreational boaters and swimmers in Rye Harbor, Milton Harbor, Greenhaven, and Mamaroneck Harbor to avoid contact with Long Island Sound due to an ongoing sludge force main break. Until further notice, no swimming was allowed at American Yacht, Shenorock Shore, and Coveleigh clubs, and Greenhaven Association. Nor was it allowed at Beach Point, Orienta Beach, Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht clubs, Shore Acres Pointe, and Harbor Island Park Beach in Mamaroneck. The beaches at Rye Town Park were not among those required to close.
An underground force main break near Blind Brook released sludge close to where Blind Brook empties into Long Island Sound, about 100 yards south of the Milton Cemetery footbridge. According to an on-site engineer, the leaking sewer pipe crosses the brook from Milton Road. Because the pipe crosses under the brook bed, the repair to the main line could only be worked on at low tide.
According to Peter DeLucia, Deputy Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities, they took the force main out of service at about 2:15 p.m. Monday afternoon, but repair efforts were hindered by high tide. Once low tide began, the Department’s contractor was on site beginning repairs.
A large work crew stopped the leak by diverting the partially treated/digested sewage sludge into a pipe that returns it to the County’s wastewater treatment plant in Disbrow Park.
DeLucia said these kinds of breaks are few and far between. “This pipe is from 1978 or 1979. A section of it needs to be replaced and unfortunately we can’t fix it in aday.”
The Health Department couldn’t decide whether to reopen the beaches and lift the advisory until they tested and evaluated the water. They took samples on Tuesday and by Wednesday afternoon everyone was back in the water.
It is not yet known how much sludge has entered Long Island Sound. DeLucia said the County proactively does water quality testing at the beaches and the samples from last week were all clear.