This information was provided by Connecticut Fund for the Environment:
Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, announced that, in this year’s Testing the Waters Report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a staggering 538 beach closures were reported in Connecticut for 2011. This annual report examines national water quality and beach closings data for 2011, breaking down the information state-by-state and beach-by-beach. This year, Connecticut saw a 276 percent increase in beach closings and advisories in from 2010 to 2011.
“While Connecticut has taken massive strides to improve water quality recently, the tide has not yet turned,” said Leah Schmalz, director of legal and legislative affairs for Save the Sound, in a prepared release. “The number of beach closures and advisory days in Connecticut rose significantly for the second year in a row—from 143 days to 538—and our ranking tumbled even further this year: 26th (out of 30) in the nation for the number of bacteria tests exceeding national beach standards. The writing on the wall is clear; we cannot rely on the whims of weather cycles to ensure our beaches stay open, we must stay vigilant and be proactive. If we want to enjoy our coastline, eat local seafood, and promote tourism along the shore, rain or shine, we must curb pollution at the source—investment in the state’s Clean Water Fund and Green Infrastructure are two critical solutions. Thankfully, the Governor and General Assembly committed significant resources over the last two years, but sustained and consistent funding in future years, particularly in next year’s budget, will decide whether the citizens of Connecticut will have the clean water they deserve."
The vast majority, 49 percent (261), of beach closures and posted advisories reported in 2011 were preemptive due to heavy rainfall other than Tropical Storm Irene. These rains delivered a toxic brew of raw sewage, chemicals and bacteria to Long Island Sound. Elevated bacteria levels accounted for 26 percent of the days (139); 21 percent (115) were due to other reasons predominantly associated with Tropical Storm Irene; and four percent (23) were preemptive due to reports of swimmer’s itch.
“This report serves as a stark reminder that communities in Connecticut need the tools to protect our precious natural resources— especially Long Island Sound,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “The significant increase in beach closures this year is truly alarming. These closures remind us that limiting the damaging effects of storm water runoff and pollution is critical to preserve Connecticut’s beaches so that they can be there for us and future generations.”
“This news is further proof of the harsh toll Tropical Storm Irene took on our coastline and the negative impact sewage overflows have on the Long Island Sound,” said State Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Guilford), co-chair of the Environment Committee. “I passed a bill this year to require the state to post information online about sewage spills that affect beaches and bodies of water. Still, we must strive to reduce spills and ensure a cleaner, safer Sound. We are now moving in that direction with better implementation of the Clean Water Act.”
"We have known for some time that harmful spills, overflows and storm water runoff are problems we have to solve; but these staggering numbers — 276 percent worse than last year — have got to accelerate our sense of urgency,” said State Representative Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus. “We just enacted a new law mandating the reporting of all sewage spills into Long Island Sound, but in an era of rising seas and bigger storms, we have only just begun to address this fast-growing threat to our health, commerce and quality of life."
The report showed that in 2011, 11 percent of all reported beach monitoring samples in Connecticut exceeded the state’s daily maximum bacterial standards. New Haven County and New London County had the highest exceedance rate, at 11 percent each; Fairfield County, 10 percent; and Middlesex County, eight percent. The beaches with the highest exceedance rates included:
NEW HAVEN COUNTY
Seabluff Beach (West Haven) – 30%
Branford Point Beach – 25%
Clark Avenue Beach (Branford) – 22%
NEW LONDON COUNTY
Green Harbor Beach (New London) – 52%
Esker Point Beach (Groton) – 25%
White Sands Beach (Old Lyme) – 20%
Short Beach (Stratford) – 27%
Shady Beach (Norwalk) – 19%
Marvin Beach (Norwalk) – 18%
Town Beach (Clinton) – 28%