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South Shore Estuary Reserve

The south shore estuary consists of a series of shallow interconnected bays, streams, and wetlands along the south shore of Long Island, that stretch for more than 70 miles from the western boundary of the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County to the eastern boundary of Shinnecock Bay in Suffolk County.

In 1993, the New York State Legislature recognized the need to manage the resources of this complex system as a single integrated estuary, and adopted the South Shore Estuary Reserve (SSER) Act declaring the estuary to be a system of unique biological, economic, and social value that must be preserved. The Act created the South Shore Estuary Reserve Council, consisting of public and private interests from south shore towns, villages, and counties, and gave the New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) the responsibility for providing administrative and technical support. The Council was charged with developing a Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for the reserve that was to address a range of issues, including water resources, land and bay uses, land cover, demography, living resources, economic issues, flooding, underwater lands, public perceptions, and public education.

 What is the Health Department's role in the SSER?

The maintenance and improvement of water quality in the South Shore Estuary is a central component of the CMP. The Bureau of Marine Resources (Office of Ecology) has been active in water quality monitoring in the SSER since 1976 when Great South Bay was sampled under the USEPA funded 208 Program (Section 208 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972). Monitoring of the other south shore embayments in Suffolk County (Moriches Bay, Quantuck Bay and Shinnecock Bay), began in 1977.

Through the 1970's, water sampling was performed on a routine (approximate monthly) basis, but was limited in frequency and scope thereafter due to requirements of other Health Department programs. It was not until the proliferation of the "brown tide" in the late 80's, that routine water quality monitoring in the estuary was once again resumed. Currently, sampling is done on an approximate monthly basis throughout the SSER.

 What water quality constituents are sampled for?

Various physical, chemical, and biological parameters are measured, including salinity, temperature, secchi depth, dissolved oxygen, nitrate + nitrite, ammonia, total and dissolved nitrogen, total and dissolved phosphorus, coliform bacteria, chlorophyll-a, and phytoplankton.

 Where can I find more information on the SSER?

For more information, visit any of the links below or contact the Office of Ecology.


New York State Dep't. of State (NYSDOS)

SSER Comprehensive Plan

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901