Nitrogen loading to Jamaica Bay, a highly urbanized estuary on the southern shore of western Long Island, New York, has increased from an estimated rate of 35.6 kilograms per day (kg/d) under predevelopment conditions (pre-1900), chiefly as nitrate plus nitrite from ground-water inflow, to an estimated 15,800 kilograms per day as total nitrogen in 2005. The principal point sources are wastewater-treatment plants, combined sewer overflow/stormwater discharge during heavy precipitation, and subway dewatering, which account for 92 percent of the current (2005) nitrogen load. The principal nonpoint sources are landfill leachate, ground-water flow, and atmospheric deposition, which account for 8 percent of the current nitrogen load. The largest single source of nitrogen to Jamaica Bay is wastewater-treatment plants, which account for 89 percent of the nitrogen load. The current and historic contributions of nitrogen from seawater are unknown, although at present, the ocean likely serves as a sink for nitrogen from Jamaica Bay. Currently, concentrations of nitrogen in surface water are high throughout Jamaica Bay, but some areas with relatively little mixing have concentrations that are five times higher than areas that are well mixed.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Nitrogen Loading in Jamaica Bay, Long Island, New York: Predevelopment to 2005