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Environmentalists Speak at Mamaroneck Water Quality Forum

Robert Funicello discusses map of sewage system.
Robert Funicello discusses map of sewage system.

Mamaroneck environmentalists said pollution from the town’s streets are getting into the sewage system and causing problems with the beaches.

On May 3 the Mamaroneck Water Quality Forum was held to inform citizens about what is going on in their water. The audience heard from members of the town’s environmental department. They spoke on topics ranging from how the water treatment plant works to how to improve the quality of the water.

Phil Horner, the head of the Water quality team on the Mamaroneck village committee for the environment, said the town’s beaches have become a collection system for run off trash and waste that has gathered in the streets due to people’s negligence.

“The storm sewers go into a catch basin, down a pipe, and right in to the river. Anything that gets in there, any bad stuff—things that come from cars, things that are sitting on parking lots, things that come out of our yards—go into the street, down this thing and right out into the harbor. Which of course affects the beach,” Horner said.

Although it may seem from the outside that any run-off water goes to the treatment plant, Horner said that is not always the case. Because of this, homeowners are encouraged to make changes to their everyday routines such as picking up after their dogs and washing their cars on the grass—so the water doesn’t go into the storm drain system.

According to Robert Funicello, environmental project director for the Department of Environmental Facilities, if you want to get rid of diseases in the water, you have to fix the sewer systems that are causing it.

Mark Boda, a public health sanitarian at the Westchester County Department of Health, commented on what he believes the water will be like in terms of both sanitary conditions and beach closings this summer.

Water at the beach never exceeded acceptable levels last year. This year water testing begins May 19, “and then we take it week by week,” Boda said.

Regardless of what the future holds, it can never hurt to make changes to people’s everyday lives, as Tracy Brown, a Riverkeeper clean water advocate, explained.

According to Brown, citizens should go out and organize groups, and then decide, based on the data that is gathered about the water quality, what they can do to improve it.

During the break, audience members were encouraged to walk around and look at the display tables, which had information on how to keep Mamaroneck’s waters clean.


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