We are excited to share our latest Blue Water Task Force report! Every year, we share the results of our water testing program which detects potentially harmful bacteria in our waterways.

Our 2020 results are consistent with trends detected in previous years. Each year our water quality results continue to indicate that many sites on the East End frequently experience high bacteria levels that exceed health standards. Ocean and bay beaches generally test clean, seldom showing high bacteria levels because of the high-volumes of water exchange and mixing that occurs at these sites. Bacteria at these sites, however, can be elevated during the busy tourist season or after rainfall or other heavy storm events.

The full report can be viewed here.

The tables below show trends in each of our three sampling regions: Montauk, East Hampton and Southampton. The tables list the site type, the number of samples taken during 2020, and the percentage of samples with bacteria counts exceeding the health standard of 104 cfu /100mL enterococcus. This summarizes the high percentages from 2016 – 2020. Sites are listed from lowest percentage of high bacteria levels to highest in 2020.

In the last five years, we see many of the same sites result in a high percentage of samples that do not meet the safe recreational standard. Some of these sites are not recreational, but could be a non-point source of stormwater pollution to other waterbodies.

A few notable changes have occurred over time. Around Lake Montauk, many percentages of high samples have dropped significantly, with the exception of Lake Montauk: East Creek which has ramped up to 70% of high results in 2020. In Southampton, there were improvements at both Little Fresh Pond sites, but Mecox Bay is testing high more often. Circle Beach Estuary has improved drastically since 2017.

The Blue Water Task Force will continue to monitor through 2021 and beyond. All partner organizations are also making efforts to improve water quality, which you can read about in the full report.

This work is made possible thanks to generous donations from the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, The Walrath Foundation, Southampton Bath and Tennis Club Charitable Fund and the Clean Water East Hampton Community Preservation Fund. We’d also like to thank our dedicated volunteers for their continued efforts to inform our community about our local water quality.