Health department: Peconic River bacteria levels back within standards

12/21/2015 5:16 PM |

Waste water being aerated in one of the two 750,000-gallon treatment tanks at the Riverhead Sewer District plant. (Credit: Paul Squire)

About a week after first warning residents about high bacteria levels in the Peconic River, the Suffolk County Health Department announced Monday that wastewater from the Riverhead Town sewage plant now meets safety standards.

Still, the health department recommends residents avoid contact with the river east of Grangebel Park in downtown Riverhead.

“High chlorination rates occurring at the sewage treatment plant are resulting in a visible plume of cloudy water in the area of the river where the effluent is discharged,” the health department wrote in a statement. The health department confirmed Monday that “corrective actions” taken by town sewer employees have worked.

Health department spokesperson Grace Kelly-McGovern said the department was waiting for more test results before removing the advisory.

“We’re hoping that we can lift it, if not tomorrow then the next day,” she said.

Sewage district superintendent Michael Reichel said test results gathered two weeks ago showed treated water from the sewer plant had exceeded the state’s guidelines.

Mr. Reichel said the sewer plant is in the middle of upgrades and was running with one of its tanks offline, putting extra stress on the remaining tank. He said employees are improving quality control at the plant and taking extra steps to make sure the wastewater stays within the state standards.

Photo credit: Waste water being aerated in one of the two 750,000-gallon treatment tanks at the Riverhead Sewer District plant. (Credit: Paul Squire, credit)

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