Biaggi and Activists Discuss Polluted Long Island Sound

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Senator Alessandra Biaggi is not surprised the Bronx has high fatality numbers for COVID-19
Photo Courtesy Office of Senator Alessandra Biaggi
Elected officials and activists meet in February to discuss water pollution in the Hutchinson River.Photo Courtesy John Doyle

A group of activists recently got together with elected officials to discuss the heavily polluted Hutchinson River, which flows into City Island and the Bronx.

On Thursday, February 19, Senator Alessandra Biaggi held a meeting with Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, the Hutchinson River Restoration Project, City Island Oyster Reef Project, City Island Rising and Save the Sound to talk about the Hutchinson River that flows into Pelham Bay Park and identity solutions.

In June 2018 the federal government sued Mount Vernon for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act by failing to comply with environmental rules meant to stop raw sewage from polluting local waterways.

Patterson-Howard, who began his term in January, is quickly addressing the pollution problem. The senator expressed gratitude that Patterson-Howard held the meeting.

“My constituents from civic and environmental groups on City Island, with an interest in protecting Eastchester Bay, the Long Island Sound and other waterways, expressed concerns about sewage spillage from Mount Vernon into the Hutchinson River and Eastchester Bay,” the senator said.

Biaggi explained that Mount Vernon’s aging sewer infrastructure and residential pollution in the Bronx and surrounding areas are contributing factors to the pollution of the Eastchester Bay. Patterson-Howard stressed that Mount Vernon is committed to taking all possible measures to repair the city’s aging infrastructure and welcomes support for the city’s efforts.

Biaggi told the Bronx Times that the consensus at the meeting was that the concerned parties would like to see an ongoing line of communication between her, Patterson-Howard and City Island residents so that everyone is able to share information and resources.

Looking to the future, Patterson-Howard is meeting with the Mount Vernon Public Works Department and reaching out to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The Mount Vernon Law Department is also continuing to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the ongoing federal lawsuit.

City Island Rising members John Doyle and David Diaz attended the meeting. Both stressed how concerned they are about the water pollution and while the problem originates in Mount Vernon, it affects their community.
Doyle feels the meeting was productive and everyone left in agreement.

“Everyone kind of agreed something must be done,” Doyle said. “The water quality affects us all. We have to step up and do better. People don’t want to look out and see their water is polluted.”

Diaz echoed Doyle’s sentiments. He noted that companies that dump chemicals into the water are a huge part of the problem.

“This is an issue that we have been dealing with for some time,” Diaz said. “It really hasn’t gotten any better. The Hutchinson River is just so bad. The pollution has to stop. There’s got to be a better way to facilitate the waste.”