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Sewage abatement and coliform bacteria trends in the lower Hudson-Raritan Estuary since passage of the Clean Water Act

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Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, significant construction and upgrading of water pollution control plants has occurred throughout the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. This has reduced the discharge of untreated wastewater into the estuary from approximately 19.7 m3/s (450 mgd) in 1970 to less than 0.2 m3/s (5 mgd) by 1988. The impact of this on water quality in the region was assessed by examining trends in a long-term ambient total coliform monitoring data set. Total coliform bacteria have been monitored each summer from 1968 to 1993, as indicators of wastewater-related pollution at 40 sites throughout the lower Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Coliforms exhibit significant long-term improvements throughout the estuary (that is, order-of-magnitude reductions over the past 26 years). Declines in coliform concentrations from 1968 through 1988 are primarily in response to plant construction and upgrades. Continued declines from 1989 through 1993 are attributed to several other New York City water pollution control programs. These programs have resulted in the abatement of 0.045 5 m3/s (1.04 mgd) of illegal discharges; reduced raw wastewater bypassing by 0.15 m3/s (3.4 mgd) due to increased surveillance and inspection of sewers; and increased capture of wet weather combined sewer overflows. In 1993, estimated compliance with New York State total coliform and fecal coliform standards was the highest ever recorded by this program. These improvements have resulted in the reopening of beaches and the lifting of wet weather bathing advisories.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1996-01-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research� (WER�) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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