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In April 2015, large numbers of Menhaden and Terrapin turtles were found dead in the Peconic River off of Flanders Bay in Long Island, NY. The die-offs were attibuted to massive algal blooms in the Peconic Estuary. The blooms were caused by excessive nitrogen in the water, which was caused by nitrogen seeping into the county's aquifers. The nitrogen seeped into the aquifers from homes, wastewater treatment plants, and through the use of fertilizers. Homes contributed to the nitrogen release due to 74% of homes in the county using outdated septic tanks and cesspools which are unable to contain the nitrogen. These homes are still using the tanks and cesspools because the county's population grew faster than expected over the last few decades and the government did not anticipate the impacts of the population growth.
The algea initially increases dissolved oxygen concentrations. However, as algal growth continues to increase, it then reduces dissolved oxygen concentrations through respiration and bacterial decomposition that occurs when the algae dies. As the dissoved oxygen levels decrease, fish and turtles begin to die off.
Corrective actions being put into place include a $383 million expansion of the sewer system to reduce reliance on the outaded septic tanks and cesspools, and the creation of a center at Stony Brook University to develop affordable, high-tech nitrogen-removal technology for home wastewater systems.