Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water:
As we rode out the storm in Long Beach, Long Island, the wind didn’t scare us, the rain was less than predicted, and the swell didn’t make it to our door. But we saw on the beach the next morning was terrifying: masses of toxic-looking foam rolling across the shore, covering sea and sand—and, for the unlucky in low-lying areas, cars and basements. Does anyone know what’s in this? On second thought, since we still plan to go swimming here, maybe we don’t want to know!
You’re right to not want to know. It probably includes raw sewage. Nearly every time New York City gets heavy rain, untreated sewage is released into the rivers and bays. Stormwater runoff drains into the city’s combined sewer systems – the same pipes and facilities that are also tasked with funneling raw sewage to the city’s treatment plants. In heavy rainstorms, the city’s aging sewer systems can no longer handle this increased capacity of water to treat, so it’s discharged into local waterways. There’s more info here.