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Water Quality Impairments

The challenges to water quality in the Northport Bay Complex, classified as water body impairments, are elevated levels of pathogenic bacteria and nitrogen.  

Pathogen impairment is measured by testing for coliform bacteria and E.Coli.  Counts that exceed Suffolk County Health Department standards result in the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.  Consuming shellfish and swimming in impacted waters leads to an increased risk of sickness or infection.  Closures impact property values, commerce and public use and recreation.

Nitrogen impairment is defined as a concentration of nitrogen compounds that, as a nutrient, promote uncontrolled growth of algae, known as Harmful Algal blooms that cloud the water and cause a number of secondary issues including hypoxia, paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), diarrheic shellfish poisoning (DSP).  

Algal blooms stop sunlight from reaching the marine habitat that ordinarily thrives on the seabed. Red Tide blooms have caused shell fishing closures throughout the complex in recent years. Northport Harbor has suffered from the most intense Red Tide blooms in the northeast U.S.