You might be planning a trip to the beach for the Fourth of July holiday -- just cross your fingers a passing thunderstorm doesn't send sewage runoff into the waters off New York City.
Beaches were off limits to New Yorkers about double the amount of time last year than in 2010, according to a new study released yesterday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Most of these beaches were deemed unsafe and had to close because of untreated sewage and dirty stormwater that ran out of city sewers and contaminated ocean water, according to the NRDC.
More than 70 percent of New York City sewers carry both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff, and during heavy storms, these sewers can overflow with both rainfall and sewage, which makes its way to waterways and beaches, according to the NRDC.
The NRDC encourages more "green infrastructure" to obstruct that type of runoff, like sidewalk trees.
If a bacteria count in water is too high, officials have to close the beach to swimmers because of public health risks.
According to the report, in New York State, there were 1,841 closing and advisory beach days last year, a 93 percent increase from 956 days in 2010.
That's the highest number of closing and advisories in New York since 2000, when beaches were first required to collect the data, the NRDC told Metro.
Hurricane Irene, which hit the New York City area on Aug. 27, was a main reason for the increased closures. Because of the hurricane, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit New York, last year was the wettest year on record for the city, according to the report.
During Irene alone, 600 preemptive beach closures were issued, the NRDC found.
Another reason beaches were closed was after about 200 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Hudson River when a treatment facility caught on fire in July.
But on a positive note for New Yorkers heading to local beaches for next week's holiday, 13 beaches met health standards every time, including four of six parts of Coney Island tested and all Rockaway Beach tests.
Douglaston Homeowners Association in Queens County-- 105 closing/advisory days
American Turners Beach in the Bronx – 27 closing/advisory days
Trinity Danish Young People’s Society Beach in the Bronx – 28 closing/advisory days
Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach in Brooklyn – 35 closing/advisory days
Seagate Beach in Brooklyn – 24 closing/advisory days
Breezy Point Beach in Queens near 219th Street – 10 closing/advisory days
South Beach in Staten Island – 19 closing/advisory days