Nearly 300 beach days lost last year to water quality

Jun 29th, 2013 | By | Category: Water


Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, issued the following statement in response to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC’s) annual “Testing the Waters” report. The report found that Connecticut beaches were closed or advisories 298 days in 2012, down from 538 in 2011 but still more than twice the number of closings/advisories in 2010, 2009, or 2008. The report analyzes beach closure and advisory statistics from beaches around the U.S.; Connecticut ranked 17th out of the 30 states listed.

“When it comes to clean water, being ‘middle-of-the-pack’ is not good enough,” said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “One out of every ten American citizens lives within an hour’s drive of Long Island Sound, and they deserve clean, safe beaches—even one closing because of bacteria and pollution is too many.”

“Just an inch of rain in 24 hours causes many local health departments around the Sound to shut down beaches. Drought conditions may provide the perfect beach weather—no rain means no contamination from stormwater runoff—but we can’t rely on Mother Nature to do our pollution control for us. If we want to enjoy our coastline, eat local seafood, and promote tourism along the shore, rain or shine, we have to be proactive. That means stopping pollution at the source by upgrading our sewage treatment plants, separating the combined sewer overflows that dump almost two billion gallons of untreated sewage into our waterways each year, and investing in innovative stormwater runoff solutions like drain filters and green infrastructure.”

“Connecticut made strides on reducing water pollution this year. Gov. Malloy proposed, and the state legislature passed, strong funding for the Clean Water Fund, which will help stop the sewer overflows that send dangerous bacteria into our waters. Public Act 13-15 lets the state take sea level rise into account when deciding how to distribute Clean Water funding and where to build future waste water treatment plants. That’s going to be crucially important as we continue to deal with the effects of climate change, like the storm surges, heavy rains, and power outages that affected sewage treatment plants around the Sound during Irene and Sandy,” Schmalz said.

According to the NRDC report, 22 percent of Connecticut’s closing/advisory days last year were due to monitoring that revealed elevated bacteria levels and 29 percent were preemptive due to heavy rainfall, which can overwhelm outdated stormwater systems and wash untreated sewage into rivers and the Sound. The remaining days were preemptive due to wildlife.

The beaches with the worst records for exceeding the state’s daily maximum bacterial standard were Pear Tree Point Beach in Fairfield County and Seabluff Beach in New Haven County, which tested above the maximum 28 percent of the time; Oak Street B Beach in New Haven County at 20 percent; and Fairfield County’s Calf Pasture Beach, Weed Beach, and Rowayton Beach, all at 19 percent.


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