Monroe County Health Department: Residents can help curb beach pollution | Environment
One of the best parts of living in Rochester is the easy access to Lake Ontario, but health concerns have limited the public's access to the beaches. Now officials in Irondequoit are trying to get area residents to help keep Durand Beach clean.
The Monroe County Health Department sent out more than 10,000 mailers to people who live in the Durand watershed to inform them that water from their property can end up at the beach. Officials say that storm water runoff and septic systems overflows in northern Irondequoit end up in small streams. Those streams empty into ponds that run along Lake Ontario. The water flows under Lakeshore Boulevard and comes out right onto Durand Beach in several spots.
There are other solutions like the one Jim Kreiley used when he installed a new septic system about seven years ago.
Kreiley said, "So everything settles down into the sand and if it does get back to the forever wild area back here, it's got to be filtered by then."
But septic systems aren't the only problem for Durand Beach. Irondequoit has a patchwork of storm and sanitary sewers that have been found to be wrongly interconnected. The storm drains, much like the septic run off, run into streams that eventually bring the water to the lake.
Monroe County's Environmental Health Manager, John Felsen, believes the mailer was a key move to keep the beach and lake clean.
"We sample the beach water quality every day," Felsen said. "But we're not in the neighborhoods looking for discharges or possible sources of pollution. This was to try to get the homeowner to help us out, and to help themselves out. It's their property, it's their area too and they may be using the beach."
The mailer may have the intended impact Felsen wanted. The Camelio family wasn't aware that polluted streams can reach Durand Beach.
Mary Ann Camelio said, "No I didn't. No, I'm surprised. Although I'm looking at the water now and it doesn't look that clean."
The mailer may help make an impact in the future and help keep the beach clean. Durand Beach was safe for swimming Monday. It has been open seven of nine days so far, and the time it was closed was a result of strong waves and not bacteria.
The Monroe County Health Department says that homeowners can do a variety of things to keep pollution out of the lake. The first is making sure their septic systems are pumped out every two to three years and dog waste is properly disposed. It also urges residents to not use lawn fertilizer if they don't need to.
If you plan on visiting the beach, you can call 753-5887 ahead of time to check on whether the beach is open or not.