How Clean Is The Beach At Coney Island? Not As Clean As Brighton

Source: wheany/Flickr
Source: wheany/Flickr

I have already visited the beach at Coney Island many times this year and what has struck me the most is how much cleaner it appears to be than in years past. Previous to my many sojourns to the shore this year, I had last been two summers ago and my striking memory was how gross it was. Garbage littered the sands and the ocean. The experience was so bad that it kept me away for a long time.

But the question remains, how clean is the beach exactly? Well, Gothamist recently reported on a Natural Resources Defense Council study that yielded surprising (or unsurprising, depending on your level of cynicism) results about the beaches at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

In the study, beaches across America are graded on a five-star scale, and the beaches between Brighton 6th Street and Ocean Parkway, and Ocean Parkway to West 8th Street – the area most people except scientists, apparently, refer to as Brighton Beach – received four stars , though this scoring was not uniform as you can see in the chart below.


In examining the numbers, the good news is tempered by stretches of the beach where the percentage of water samples exceeding national standards for cleanliness has increased over the past three years. Those areas? Coney Island.

Beaches cannot have more than three stars if they exceed five percent of the national average, which is the case from West 8th Street, heading west. If you’ve got a phobia of particle matter that may or may not be human waste or manufacturing waste or some other waste… your best bet is to stick to the four star areas between Brighton 6th and Ocean Parkway.

The biggest cause of pollution comes from sewage overflow. According to Gothamist, New York City experiences 30 billion gallons of sewage spillover each year. Superstorm Sandy accounted for five billion gallons of sewage spillover when it trashed the city late last October.

While that news is disgusting, Brighton Beach is still your best bet for summer ocean swimming as it was the highest ranked of all New York beaches with the ‘good stretch’ of it being no more polluted than any other beach in America. As for Coney Island, well, it could be worse – but, hey, this still ain’t bad compared to we might imagine water conditions to be after all of Southern Brooklyn’s trash and street chemicals washed into it in October.

For those wondering, by the way, there was no accounting for Manhattan Beach in the report.

Where do you prefer to take in some sun and brave the waters?


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