Last week, a Sheepshead Bites reader, Elizabeth Mokrousova, reached out to us with her concern about the garbage-filled waters with shocking photographs taken at the edge of the pier. The photos show empty Ajax bottles, Fabuloso laundry detergent, and large styrofoam boxes among the piles of trash.
“The pollution in that water has been consistent for as long as I can remember, about twenty years, but recently it’s gotten a lot worse and I wish someone would clean it up and take care of the area,” said Mokrousova.
The state of filth at the piers jeopardizes the recreation of people, like Mokrousova, who go to the water to relax.
“Everyone’s lunch break should enable them to get fresh air and enjoy nature before returning indoors, but unfortunately, the water is anything but beautiful with this amount of trash,” said Mokrousova. “I see parents taking walks with their children and looking at the swans there, but what kind of message are we really sending new generations by showing them that pollution is fine and that no one should be held accountable for it.”
After heavy rain, Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s office is typically inundated with complaints about garbage and debris floating and washing up in and around the piers of Sheepshead Bay. Deutsch has assembled clean up crews in the past, but it’s hard to stay ahead of the waves of garbage when the shore gets re-littered after every rainfall.
Community Board 15, which covers Sheepshead Bay is well aware of the issue, but hasn’t received complaints as of late, according to a CB15 spokesperson. They have reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) numerous times in the past, they said, but the bay is under the Parks Department’s jurisdiction — not the DEP’s.
The Parks Department has also not received complaints about the litter, but is aware of the issue and is working towards a solution. They encourage community members to do their part as well.
“When it rains, trash and debris discarded on city streets and sidewalks can be washed down storm drains and end up on beaches,” said Maeri Ferguson of the Parks Department. “As always, we encourage all New Yorkers to help us keep all parks and streets beautiful by properly disposing of their trash.”
In 2014, the Parks Department in partnership with the DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Clean Streets = Clean Beaches campaign at MCU Park in Coney Island. The campaign is focused on reducing litter in the streets to avoid it being washed up on New York’s beaches.
Besides garbage getting in the water, the city is also dealing with massive amounts of sewage overflow in certain waterways like the Gowanus Canal when it rains. These issues amass to a deep underlying cause, according to a report done by Newsweek, and that is a deteriorating sewage and water infrastructure in the city.