After Nearly Five Months, Health Department Lifts Peconic River Recreation Warning

After Nearly Five Months, Health Department Lifts Peconic River Recreation Warning

On the Peconic River
On the Peconic River

The Suffolk County Health Department has lifted an advisory it issued December 15, 2015 asking the public to take precautions before recreating on the tidal portion of the Peconic River east of Grangebel Park.

The advisory was issued when the Riverhead sewage treatment plant began discharging inadequately treated wastewater to the river while in the midst of a $23.5 million upgrade to the plant. Riverhead has since paid an $18,000 settlement to the DEC for the inadequately treated wastewater.

Suffolk County helped fund the upgrades at the Riverhead sewage treatment plant, and the county health department said in a press release April 29 that “the effluent currently meets the bacteriological limits established by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

The health department says they will continue to work closely with the DEC, which has jurisdiction over the permitting and enforcement at the plant, to ensure they remain in compliance as the upgrades are completed by August of this year.

The county, as always, recommends that members of the public not swallow water when recreating, to avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water and to wash your hands after recreating near surface waters.

Also on April 29, Suffolk County reported that a SUNY Stony Brook researchers have confirmed a cyanobacteria bloom is underway in Wickapogue Pond in Southampton.

The health department is asking residents not to use or swim or wade in the pond and to keep their pets and children away.

After a record number of blue-green algae blooms across the East End last year, the health department is asking the public to avoid ponds with water that looks scummy or discolored. Blue-green algae can also look like the contents of a can of paint have been suspended in the water.

To report a suspected blue-green algae bloom at a body of water that contains a Suffolk County-permitted bathing beach, contact the Suffolk County Health Department’s Office of Ecology at 631.852.5760.

To report a suspected blue-green algae bloom that is in a body of water that does not contain a Suffolk County permitted bathing beach, contact the Division of Water at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at 518.402.8179.

For more information about blue-green algae, visit the Suffolk County website.

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at

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