‘Impaired’ Properties Continued: More of the Story

By Mike Phillips

Although the bureaucratic tangle around the Jasmine Street beach access clearly is the greatest concern in the state’s designation of impaired (polluted or otherwise troublesome) parts of Nassau County, several inland spots also were listed. They bear watching but are less alarming.

But if you haven’t read Monday’s account of the Jasmine Street beach access listing, read that first. It will tell you how the listings were made in July but only came to light recently.

The inland listings – mostly small areas near or in waterways – generally point to high levels of iron in the water, but a couple also point to high levels of aluminum. And a few, unfortunately, to bacteria.

Excess iron in ground water is not necessarily pollution. It can be naturally occurring as iron-bearing rocks break down. Regardless, high iron content can create what’s called iron bacteria. This isn’t the kind of bacteria that make people sick, but it can create an unappealing, smelly, red slime.

High iron content can, however, make it harder to get rid of harmful bacteria like E. Coli. But it generally poses little risk to people using ground water for boating, swimming, fishing or shellfish gathering.

Excessive aluminum in ground water is more troublesome.

In water, aluminum can act as a toxic agent on animals that use gill-breathing, such as fish and invertebrates, by causing a loss of their ability to maintain appropriate body pressure. This can affect uptake of salts and ions.

Aluminum can also react with other chemical contaminants in the water, leading to trouble. Even though it is often stated that low concentrations do not negatively impact aquatic life, chronic exposure to even low levels can be toxic to certain species of aquatic plants, fish and snails.There hasn’t been much research, though, on the effect of aluminum on aquatic life in creeks and streams. You might say that the state’s aluminum level limits are educated guesses.

Like any mineral, aluminum can occur naturally in nature. But an awful lot of it gets into our waters thanks to careless can-tossers.

Some of the Nassau spots are covered by the robust St. Marys Riverkeeper organization, which operates in northern Nassau and has some Nassau folks on its impressive volunteer roster. Executive director Emily Floore is open to sharing ideas with Nassau citizens who are disturbed by the state’s poor communication after designating the “impaired” areas but not telling anyone for six months. Look for an interview with her as soon as she can clear out some time.

Now. Here are the inland impaired areas. The number on the left of the list is from the state’s list of verified impaired areas. Then comes the location, then the nature of the problem, then (not always given) the level of concern.

62 Nassau River, unnamed branch Dissolved Oxygen High
368 Amelia River estuary Aluminum  
369 Nassau River at Lofton Creek  Aluminum  
393 Jasmine Street  Bacteria High
900 St. Marys estuary  Enterococci Low
1079 Mills Creek Fecal coliform  
1086 Deep Creek Fecal coliform  
1222 St. Marys estuary Iron Medium
1223 Amelia River estuary Iron Medium
1224 Lofton Creek Iron Medium
1225 Deep Creek Iron  
1226 South Amelia River estuary Iron  
1227 Nassau River sound Iron  
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Charles Loouk
Trusted Member
Charles Loouk(@charles-loouk)
1 year ago

Would it be possible to add a map of those places? I can manually look them up, but I thought it would be nice to just have that as part of the article. Thanks.

Nancy Dickson
Nancy Dickson(@nancyjackathenshotmail-com)
1 year ago

Thank you for bringing this problem to light. Frightening to think how long it would have been ignored had you not done so. Now, of course, the questions are: who are the folks responsible for public safety and is how long will it be before they do something?

Mike Collins
Mike Collins(@mike-collins)
1 year ago

Funny how nobody heard about these water tests until months later, after the election. What’s the cause of the dangerous bacteria on a public beach? We are left to guess. Have other beach access points been tested? No word. What can be done to alleviate the problem? Who knows? St. John’s Riverkeeper will get back to us when she can make time. Am I the only one who is disgusted?

Mike Collins
Mike Collins(@mike-collins)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Collins

Here’s Mike Philips’ excellent earlier article about the problem and what we might want to do about it, since we can’t count on the government. “Amelia Island Riverkeepers” anyone?


1 year ago

Many of the homes along S Fletcher were originally constructed in the 60s or so when Asphaltic pipe was used connecting to the sewer. … we replaced ours in 2015 after it had failed. If there are other such failures, the nose would detect it.
The town should have a list of sewer connections along S Fletcher. Sewer connection should be mandatory … I would be very surprised if it weren’t.

Nancy Dickson
Nancy Dickson(@nancyjackathenshotmail-com)
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard

Many of us still have septic tanks – great if we could join the 20th century!

bob (@guest_66701)
1 year ago

I can’t help but be suspicious of all this. Seems to be a molehill. I suppose time will tell.

Dean Abrassart
Dean Abrassart(@deanabrassart)
1 year ago

Where might this data be found? Who performed the sampling and analysis? The data must be looked at over a course of time or is this a point in time? Before mitigation can occur, proper analysis must occur.

Kate Singleton
Kate Singleton (@guest_66747)
1 year ago

Thanks Hack West for your help!


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