The Town of Hempstead has owned and operated an analytical laboratory since the late 1960s, providing drinking water analysis and environmental monitoring. The 5,650 sq. ft. waterfront facility is at the western end of Point Lookout on Hempstead Bay. The laboratory has unique waterfront access and slips for research vessels. Complete renovation and modernization of the facility is underway and will be completed in 2022. The lab has an extensive equipment and instrumentation inventory and analytical history. Capabilities include metals, volatile and semi-volatile organics, pathogens, and typical nutrient and physical water quality and sediment parameters. The laboratory has advanced microscopy capability and expertise in phytoplankton (including HABs) identification and enumeration. Analyses will be available soon for contaminants of emerging concern, such as caffeine, pharmaceuticals, microplastics and personal care products. The laboratory could be equipped to test for evidence of COVID-19 in wastewater – an increasingly valuable tracing mechanism for the virus.
Ongoing Projects at the Marine Laboratory
The bay study sampling program started in 1968, one of the longest running estuary water sampling programs in the region. Conservation and Waterways chemists perform water quality analyses of bay waters sampled from 39 sites in Hempstead Bay. The findings help to support our biological modeling and the clam industry in town waters. To provide these analyses, our chemists are using state-of-the art instrumentation and techniques such as: inductive coupled plasma spectrometry, gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectrometry, and others, in order to keep pace with changes in the required New York State Health Department standards and proficiencies. Bay Study Parameters include: Nutrient data: NO3, NO2, NH3, orthoP, Chlorophyll a (Transmission spectrum) 2.2 Physical Parameters: Sal, DO, Temp,Total and fecal coliforms, Phytoplankton analysis (Tows for >40 micron species).
Tributaries and Vertical Profiling
Physical Parameters are collected in the tributaries of Hempstead Bay, as well as vertical profiles, or samples at multiple depths. These parameters include: Sal, DO, Temp, pH, Turbidity, coliforms, nutrients, Fluorometric Chlorophyll (Induced fluorescence intensity)
The Town has deployed continuous monitoring water quality equipment at the following locations: Mill River, Wreck Lead, Head of Bay – Jamaica Bay. The instruments are serviced and calibrated using the lab facilities. The physical parameters collected include: Sal, DO, Temp, Water Depth, Turbidity, Fluorometric Chlorophyll (Induced fluorescence intensity)
The Town has maintained 7 tide gauge stations since the 1970s; 4 are now in partnership with US Geological Survey and 3 are currently in partnership with Stony Brook University - SoMAS.
Sediment Sampling of Marsh and Channels
The Town has worked with collaborators to determine the extent of legacy contamination in the bay. This is important for planning marsh restorations, sediment management, dredging projects, wildlife health management, and human health issues. Parameters include Sediment grain sizes, heavy metals, Pb stable isotopes, semivolatiles, invertebrates.