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Study: Sewage-Related Bacteria Makes Hudson River Swimming Hazardous In Spots

Environmental Watchdog Riverkeeper Blasts Those That Dump In The River

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YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a swim that could make you sick.

Important new information shows the Hudson River and related waterways are dangerously dirty. On Monday, people were weighing the warning against the impulse to stay cool, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“It’s hot and we want to go swimming,” said Weston Murphy of Sleepy Hollow.

Every day people take the plunge in the Hudson, which is cleaner than it’s been for years, but perhaps not as clean as it should be.

“This isn’t about ‘don’t swim.’ This is about don’t dump your sewage in the Hudson,” said Tracy Brown of Hudson Riverkeeper.

A new study released by Hudson Riverkeeper and Columbia University found high levels of sewage-related bacteria at some key waterfront spots, some of the samples resistant to older forms of antibiotics.

They found it off Piermont, Yonkers, Manhattan’s West Side, Flushing Bay over in Queens and Newtown Creek on the Queens-Brooklyn line.

“Seeing this bacteria tells us there’s been sewage dumped at those locations,” Brown said.

Every one of those spots is near a sewage treatment plant and poses a special risk to some swimmers.

“People with immune conditions, people with openings in their skin, things of that nature,” said Dr. Arthur Forni of WESTMED Medical Group.

People who use the river said timing is most important, about knowing when the pollution is present usually after heavy rainfalls when treatment plants are most likely to have been overwhelmed.

“I think it’s always good to keep an eye on, but I think where we are it’s perfectly clean,” said Samantha Palazzi of Sleepy Hollow.

To underline the point, the scientists who conducted the river study told Young their entire research team went swimming in the Hudson on Sunday, although not near one of the sewage treatment plants.

Riverkeeper called for renewed local investment in sewage treatment facilities to make up for a reduction in federal spending.

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