The Health of Local Beaches

(File)

New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) – The new beach grades are out for how clean local beaches are.  Save the Sound’s SoundHealthExplorer.org published the New Beach Grades for 2011-2015.

Dry summer seasons in 2014 and 2015 helped with improved beach water quality, according to new data on SoundHealthExplorer.org. One hundred sixty-five Sound beaches (83%), met or surpassed national averages for clean water in 2011-2015; up from 159 beaches (80%) in 2010-2014.

However, some Long Island Sound beaches still suffer from periodic unsafe bacteria pollution. Thirty-five Sound beaches (17%) had water quality below the national average. Two beaches received an F (down from 3 in 2010-2014), five received a D (down from 7), and the remaining 28 got C grades (down from 31).

Making historic beach data easily accessible for the beach-loving public

“We want clean beaches that are healthy for all to enjoy,” said Curt Johnson, executive director of Save the Sound program. “Our goal is to engage the public in improving their beaches by putting long-term bacterial data trends at their fingertips. Now everyone around the Sound can understand their local water quality conditions and work to keep their favorite beaches clean and open for swimming.”

The interactive map paints a picture of water quality trends using data from health departments in New York City, Westchester County, Connecticut, and Long Island. The Sound Health Explorer grades beaches on an “A” to “F” scale. Each grade is based on how often over the last five years a beach has failed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bacterial pollution standards for safe swimming. That standard is 104 units of Enterococcus/100 ml sampled.

The website maps out many different potential sources of water pollution and tracks rainfall. Data consistently reveals that wet weather continues to drive pollutants into Long Island Sound. By clicking on a beach the user can see if that beach suffers from bacterial contamination in wet weather and/or in dry weather and how often. Wet weather failures are suggestive of polluted stormwater problems. Dry weather failures typically indicate hyper-localized and on-going problems, such as cracked and leaking sewer pipes, home sewer lines illegally connected to stormwater systems, or failing septic systems.

“New York’s and Connecticut’s citizens shouldn’t have to skip a day at the beach to stay healthy,” said Tracy Brown, director of Western Sound Programs. “This tool can help decision-makers determine which communities are in most need of funding and can support increased investment in clean water.”

You can check out the grades at their website SoundHealthExplorer.org

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