Created to Protect and Improve the Water Quality of Hempstead Harbor.
This website was created by the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee to serve as a resource of information on Hempstead Harbor (Long Island, New York).
We envision this site as a central clearinghouse for all kinds of information relating to the harbor, including, but not limited to:
facts about the harbor and its watershed
maps of Hempstead Harbor
the harbor’s history
events on or about the harbor
the harbor’s environment and steps that you can take to help improve it
uses of the harbor (fishing, boating, swimming, etc.)
regulations regarding the harbor’s use
projects undertaken to improve the harbor
minutes of meetings held by the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee
Welcome to Hempstead Harbor . org
Funding for the creation and hosting of this site has been provided by Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
This site is (and probably always will be) a work in progress. A lot of content will be added as time goes on. Please feel free to check the site from time to time and to provide us with requests or comments on its contents.
History of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee
Hempstead Harbor was a very different harbor in the 1980s (and earlier).
There were many instances of beach closures due to high bacteria levels, some due to direct discharge of sewage into the harbor from the former aging Roslyn treatment plant. Several superfund sites were discovered along its shores. Rotting wooden barges lined the lower harbor and sat there for decades before funding and responsibility for their removal could be ironed out. The Village of Sea Cliff even resorted to installing “Gunderboom” around its beach in an effort to keep contaminants from interfering with swimmers. Once the most productive oystering harbor in New York, it is now entirely closed to shellfishing. Low oxygen levels led to periodic fish kills.
In response to these conditions, a citizen’s group, the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor was formed in 1986 and they have succeeded in keeping a focus on the needs of the harbor.
At the same time, the nine local governments (including the County) which surrounded the harbor, however, continued to address the harbor issues in their communities independently, as most issues have and continue to be. However, as it became increasingly evident that pollutants know no boundaries and that small villages did not have the resources to tackle large harbor issues and the larger Towns and County had so many other issues to deal with that the tough issues where jurisdiction was complicated or unclear tended to be put on the back burner by all involved. Because of this, it became increasingly evident that there was a need for a mechanism to facilitate a more coordinated government approach to these problems.
The idea for a Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee was conceived by Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli and former Sea Cliff Mayor Ted Blackburn in the mid 1990s. In 1995 funds were sought and received from the New York State Department of State to fund a part time director and to hire coastal experts to prepare an in-depth Water Quality Improvement Plan. Each of the nine municipalities signed memoranda of understandings to work cooperatively and to contribute financially on a pro-rata basis.
Long Island’s first watershed-based inter-municipal coalition was thus born. It has been an unqualified success and has spawned the creation of at least one other inter-municipal effort, the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee.
How We Are Funded
Since 1995, the Committee has received over 20 grants, which have covered much of the Committee’s costs. The balance of the Committee’s budget (including monetary matches for the grants) is made up from annual contributions (“dues”) received from the nine member municipalities. These annual contributions (for calendar year 2018) total $ 90,750.00.
Technical Advisors & Partners
Our efforts would not be possible without the assistance of the following organizations and agencies that work with the Committee as technical advisors and partners:
The New York State Department of State
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor
New York Sea Grant / NEMO
The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association
The North Shore Country Club
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Long Island Sound Study Office
By the NYS League of Conservation Voters On April 1, 2020, the New York State Legislature included the Environmental Bond Act, also known as the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, in the 2020 – 2021 state budget for a total of $3 billion. The Bond Act covers a wide range of environmental protection programs and initiatives …
By Eric Swenson, Executive Director One important aspect of keeping our harbors clean is to stop “illicit discharges”. But first you need to find them. One promising technology that is coming into its own is the use of drones with infrared “thermal imaging” cameras that can identify such discharges by detecting slight increases in temperature. Since municipalities are …
By Eric Swenson, Executive Director, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Fifty years ago, as part of the first Earth Day, I and fellow students tied ropes to a VW Beetle and pulled it from Locust Valley village to the high school. I guess we wanted to show that you didn’t need to use polluting fossil fuels. Classes …