Excessive Water Runoff and Coliform Bacteria Contaminates NYC Beaches


Siobhan Armstead


PS 161 Pedro Ablizu Campos

New York, NY

Earth/Environmental Science




In New York City, the majority of surfaces are covered by impervious materials. The city has storm drains throughout, but often they are not sufficient to account for runoff from roofs due to storms/rain. When the storm drains are not enough to absorb excessive water on the ground in the city, the water mixes with various pollutants and drains into surrounding waterways in the city without being properly treated. One pollutant New Yorkers see often is animal fecal matter. People walk their pets (mostly dogs) each day in the city and when they defecate, people may or may not pick up the mess. Even when responsible owners pick up the visible waste, amounts of bacteria may be left. Therefore rainwater mixes with this leftover fecal material and is not properly treated as it makes its way to the city’s waterways. The mixing of rainwater with fecal matter bacteria has had visible effects on several of the city’s beaches. Due to the contamination of public waterways by fecal matter bacteria, city beaches have been closed more days this year than in the past 5 years. 




Your task is to evaluate the current policies about how the control of animal waste is dealt with in New York City. You will present your findings in a Google Slides presentation and suggest policies that can decrease the impact leftover animal waste has on the city in the form of coliform bacteria that gets into the waters.




You will be divided into groups of 3 to do research based on the six steps of the Public Policy Analyst. There are worksheets associated with each step that you will complete to show your understanding of each step of the PPA process.

1)    Defining the problem: The problem is the contamination of NYC beaches

a)    Worksheet 1

b)    Resources:

                                      i)        https://nypost.com/2018/06/30/these-new-york-city-beaches-are-teeming-with-fecal-bacteria/

2)    Gathering Evidence- How do we know we are identifying something that is actually a problem? This is the step where we will show there is a problem.

a)    Worksheet 2

b)    Resources

                                      i)        https://citylimits.org/2016/07/12/stormwater-is-new-challenge-to-citys-clean-water-plans/

                                     ii)        https://www.riverkeeper.org/blogs/water-quality-blogs/hudson-river-sewage-overflow-looks-like/

                                    iii)        https://maps.nyc.gov/beach/ (This website is a link to data that keeps track of the bacteria count in waters at various beaches in NYC, public and private.)

                                   iv)        https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/doody-calls-the-importanc_n_898121.html

3)    Identify the Causes- What is creating this problem?

a)    Worksheet 3

b)    Resources

                                      i)        http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/stormwater/flooding_causes.shtml

                                     ii)        http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/stormwater/index.shtml

4)    Evaluate an Existing Policy- What (if anything) is being done about the problem already? Can the existing policies be improved or do they need to be replaced?

a)    Worksheet 4

b)    Resources

                                      i)        https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1535/dog-or-animal-waste-complaint

                                     ii)        https://theoutline.com/post/4171/new-yorks-pooper-scooper-laws-dont-do-diddly-about-dog-dung?zd=1&zi=qloddybq

                                    iii)        https://nypost.com/2013/11/27/no-more-dog-poop-fine-signs/

5)    Develop Solutions- Using what we’ve learned about the problem and existing attempts to resolve it, what are solutions to the problem?

a)    Worksheet 5

b)    Resources

                                      i)        https://www.grownyc.org/openspace/green-infrastructure-toolkit/permeable-pavement-downspout-planters-enhanced-tree-pits

6)    Select the Best Solution- Once we identify ways we could fix the problem we examine effectiveness/feasibility of each solution. We select the solution that is the best combination.

a)    Worksheet 6


After completing the worksheets, you will work together to create the Google slides presentation using the information from the worksheets. Prior to starting the presentation, all worksheets must be checked/verified by the teacher to ensure you have what you need to complete the presentation.


One student will complete the first section (2-3 slides) which will outline the problem and evidence. Another student will focus on identifying causes of the problem and the analysis of the existing policies (2-3 slides). The third student will focus on developing possible solutions and identifying the best solution (2-3 slides). All students in the group will work together to complete a bibliography slide to cite all sources they used to complete the presentation.


Citation Guidelines

-       Any sources (including pictures) you use have to be cited. It is unethical to use sources and not give credit. Any websites you use must be cited, using the format below as an example, and all pictures you choose to include must have a link to the original source of the photo.

-       Author's Last Name, First Name OR Corporate/Institutional Author Name <if known>
Title of Document or File
Document date OR date of last revision
Medium (e.g. Online video clip)
Title of larger web site in which clip is located
Name of hosting library or agency (if appropriate).
Access Date
URL <web address>

-       Example: Society of Spectacle. Dir. Guy Debord. 1973. Online video clip. Ubuweb.com. Accessed on 09 October 2007. <http://www.ubu.com/film/debord_spectacle.html>




The entire project will be worth a total of 75 points which is compiled of various components of the rubric as outlined below. All steps of the webquest will be assessed.

Rubric for Project







(points x 5)

All worksheets are completed and correct.

All worksheets mostly complete, missing no more than 1-3 components.

The worksheets are largely incomplete, missing more than 3. components



(Visual Display of Info., Sound Devices, Images)

(points x 3)

Slide presentation is visually appealing with attention paid to keeping readability of text.

Layout is done

Slide presentation is mostly appealing, some fonts/effects may impair readability.

Slide presentation is confusing to read or slides are cluttered. Lack of attention paid to fonts/no use of effects.


Information on topic.

(points x 5)

Information is completely correct and engaging with the audience.

Information is factually correct, may not be engaging or completely related to the topic.

Information is not complete or factual. Little or no attempt made to relate to the topic.


Writing mechanics

(points x 2)

Slides have no grammar, spelling errors.

Slides have minimal errors that do not impact understanding.

Multiple errors that impair understanding.


Documentation of sources

(points x 2)

All websites are noted on bibliography slide. Used at least 5 different sources.

Most websites noted on bibliography slide (no more than 2 missing). Used at least 3 different sources

More than 2 sources missing on bibliography slide. Used less than 3 different sources.


Project Length

(points x 3)

3 slides on each section.

1-2 slides on each section.

Incomplete sections, missing sections.


Group Role/ Responsibilities

(points x 5)

All required roles given to member are completed and contributed fully to the overall project.

Student mostly participated in all parts of the project, contributions may have had minor mistakes that did not impact the overall project.

Student did not fulfill role(s) in the group and others had to complete work or work was incomplete or incorrect which affected the overall project.







By the end of this project, you will learn about the importance of protecting our water, not only for drinking/personal uses but for recreation as well. As you investigate you will discover different causes of water contamination, why it is an important social problem, and ways to improve conditions of contamination of waters on the shores of New York City.






7th Grade- Unit 5 MInimizing Human Impact Through Engineering Design


MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.


MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems


Social Studies

Standard 5.4 Civics, Citizenship, and Government
- The study of civics and citizenship requires the ability to probe ideas and assumptions, ask and answer analytical questions, take a skeptical attitude toward questionable arguments, evaluate evidence, formulate rational conclusions, and develop and refine participatory skills.

-       Students prepare a plan of action that defines an issue or problem, suggests alternative solutions or courses of action, evaluates the consequences for each alternative solution
or course of action, prioritizes the solutions based on established criteria, and proposes an action plan to address the issue or to resolve the problem



Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.