New York Harbor is making a comeback and the signs are all around. According to the city’s most recent Harbor Survey Report, the Harbor is cleaner now than at any time in the last 100 years. Continued improvements to sewage handling and treatment are chiefly responsible for the better grade attributed to water quality, which have led to increased recreational opportunities such as swimming and fishing. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection conducts numerous programs designed to maintain this trend. DEP operates 14 sewage treatment plants that together treat approximately 1.3 billion gallons of sewage each day. The agency also employs a fleet of boats that are used to monitor the waters and the shoreline for water quality and sources of pollution.
Another area of surveillance is Jamaica Bay. New York City is making strides in legislation establishing a pathway towards restoring and maintaining the water quality and ecological integrity of the Bay. This includes evaluating potential hazards and coordinating environmental remediation and protection efforts in a focused and cost-effective manner. Jamaica Bay is essentially a 31-square-mile water body with a broader watershed of approximately 142 square miles, which includes portions of Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County. It is also a diverse ecological resource that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrub lands, and brackish and freshwater wetlands. These habitats support 91 fish species, 325 species of birds, and many reptile, amphibian, and small mammal species.
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