June 29, 2011
SAVE THE SOUND, SENATOR BLUMENTHAL, STATE LEGISLATORS RELEASE CONNECTICUT BEACH CLOSURE NUMBERS FOR 2010
Closing and advisory days increased 32 percent from 2009
NEW HAVEN, CT — Today, Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Environment Committee Co-Chair Representative Richard Roy (D-Milford), Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee Co-Chair Representative Pat Widlitz (D-Guilford, Branford), Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Groton), Representative Ted Moukawsher (D-Groton), and Audubon Connecticut, released the findings of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2011 Testing the Waters report. This annual report examines national water quality and beach closings data for 2010, breaking down the information state-by-state and beach-by-beach. This year, Connecticut saw an increase in beach closings and advisories in 2010 to 143, a 32 percent increase from 2009.
“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. “The number of beach closures and advisory days in Connecticut rose significantly last year and we tumbled to 24th 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 is solution number one. Thankfully the Governor and General Assembly committed significant resources for the next two years, but sustained and consistent funding in years to come will decide whether the citizens of Connecticut will have the clean water they deserve."
The great majority, 66 percent, of beach closures and posted advisories reported in 2010 were due to stormwater contamination, a condition that can be mitigated through investment in sewer infrastructure upgrades and stormwater management techniques like green infrastructure and landscaping. Sewage leaks or spills, wildlife and unknown sources of contamination account for the remaining 34 percent of beach closures and advisory days.
“This report serves as a stark reminder that we must provide communities in Connecticut with the resources and tools they need to protect our precious natural resources— especially the Long Island Sound,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Limiting the damaging effects of stormwater runoff and pollution is essential to preserve our beaches and wildlife so that they can be there for us and future generations.”
"During the past 20 years, our municipalities and the state upgraded old sewage treatment systems and installed new ones. Mother Nature, however, delivered record-breaking amounts of rain and snow this past year, taxing all our storm and sewage systems and causing localized and statewide damage. The results left our beaches in bad shape and the waters polluted to the point that public health was put at risk," said Representative Roy. "I look forward to working with the Department of Environmental Protection and the strong environmental organizations within Connecticut to again repair and replenish our natural water resources to provide residents with clean, safe recreational opportunities."
"We are proud to announce that this year the Connecticut legislature has dedicated significant funds in our bond package to support clean water projects,” said Representative Widlitz. “Clean water is essential to protecting public health, providing safe recreation and fostering a thriving economy."
“Connecticut’s beaches are a treasured natural resource, centers for family recreation, and a great attraction for tourists in southeast Connecticut and across our state. Unfortunately, last year we saw an alarming increase in reports of poor water quality and beach closures,” said Senator Maynard. “We must do more to protect our beaches, and reduce the pollution in urban and suburban runoff water that makes its way down to the coast.”
“I believe Long Island Sound to be the signature natural resource in our state,” said Representative Moukawsher. “The continual degradation of the Sound and marine species from storm water runoff and sewage is of extreme concern. I join with the Save the Sound in support of a comprehensive plan of action to address storm water runoff, sewage and the harm to marine species.”
“On the eve of July 4, Connecticut residents heading to Long Island Sound deserve to find healthy beaches and clean water,” said Sandy Breslin, director of governmental affairs for Audubon Connecticut. “Fortunately, we know what to do to keep this promise. We call on Congress to reauthorize and fund the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Acts. Our State is poised to make the historic investments in clean water infrastructure and strengthen protections preventing pollution from stormwater runoff. These investments create jobs and boost our economy. And each of us can play a role at home, school, or work by reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizers and pesticides, safely disposing of our trash and respecting or restoring natural vegetation along our rivers, lakes and streams that flow into the Sound – Mother Nature’s filtration system – so every Connecticut family can safely enjoy a day at the beach.”
The report showed that in 2010, 11 percent of all reported beach monitoring samples in Connecticut exceeded the state’s daily maximum bacterial standards. New London County had the highest exceedance rate, 15 percent, following by Fairfield County, 11 percent, New Haven County, 10 percent, and Middlesex County, 10 percent. The beaches with the highest exceedance rates included:
NEW LONDON COUNTY
Kiddie’s Beach- 54%
Green Harbor Beach- 45%
NEW HAVEN COUNTY
Branford Point Beach- 28%
Anchor Beach (Merwin Point)- 22%
Pent Road Beach- 20%
Shady Beach- 24%
Long Beach (Marnick’s)- 24%
Long Beach (Proper)- 22%
Town Beach (Clinton)- 21%
The full Connecticut portion of the NRDC report is attached.