Report: Connecticut beaches cleaner, but...

July 29, 2008 5:49:51 PM PDT
Connecticut's beaches were cleaner in 2007 than in 2006, but more work needs to be done, according to a report released Tuesday. The National Resources Defense Council report shows there were 108 closings and water advisory days in Connecticut in 2007, compared to 224 in 2006.

Environmental groups say reduced rainfall and less storm water runoff likely contributed to the decrease. Theywant Connecticut to focus on long-term pollution solutions, such as cleaning up more of the raw sewage that enters the rivers from outdated sewage treatment plants.

"Even with low rainfall this year, citizens still lost over 100 beachwater days," said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, a Connecticut Fund for the Environment program.

"Clearly, relying on the whims of weather cycles to ensure our beaches stay open is insufficient," she said. "We must stay vigilant and be proactive."

The state has invested millions of dollars over the years in projects aimed at removing nitrogen in Long Island Sound. Also, the state's Long Island Sound license plate program has awarded $4.7 million in grants to fund 300 projects benefiting the Sound.

Connecticut monitors 66 public beaches, which stretch along 18 miles of Long Island Sound coastline. The monitoring season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The report found that Fairfield County had the most closings and water advisories in 2007. It was due to high bacteria levels from boat discharge, as well as sewer overflows and storm water run-off.

New London County fared the best with no beach closures or advisories, according to the report. However, samples taken at some beaches, including Ocean Beach Park, exceeded the state's daily maximum bacterial standards.

Most closings, 72 percent, were due to contamination from storm water. Twenty-seven percent were due to sewage and 1 percent from other sources.

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