Clean Water / Western Sound

Our Water Quality Monitoring Results for July

Our staff and volunteers have tested 51 sites in Westchester County and Greenwich for water-borne bacteria. Here’s what they found.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, August 6, 2015

CONTACT: Sarah Ganong: 203-787-0646 ext. 128

SAVE THE SOUND RELEASES WATER QUALITY MONITORING RESULTS FOR JULY

Findings show high bacteria levels throughout the region, especially in rivers that flow into the Sound; cleanest beaches in New Rochelle and Greenwich

Mamaroneck, NY – Save the Sound has published the results of its first five weeks of water quality monitoring for 2015 in 12 shoreline communities of the western Long Island Sound.

Save the Sound staff and trained volunteers are conducting weekly water quality sampling at 51 sites in Mount Vernon, White Plains, Port Chester, Mamaroneck Village, Town of Mamaroneck, Rye, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and Harrison, NY, and in Greenwich, CT. The latest findings, as well as data and analysis from 2013 and 2014, can be viewed in table and map form at www.savethesound.org.

Of the 51 sites, only eight passed US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for safe swimming every time they were tested in June and July. They are Byram Beach, Byram River at Comly Ave., Greenwich Cove, and Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich; and Five Island Approach, Town Dock Road, Sheldrake Lake, and Glen Island Approach in New Rochelle.

Save the Sound found that 60 percent of the samples collected had bacteria levels that exceed EPA standards for safe swimming. A quarter of the samples were greater than ten times the EPA standard. The highest bacteria levels were found at the Hutchinson River near the intersection of Farrell and Beechwood in Mount Vernon, where flow from a broken sewer line has been documented since at least 2009, and in Beaver Swamp Brook, a problem area that Save the Sound identified for the Village of Mamaroneck last season.

“Bacterial pollution is a widespread problem in our region that poses a serious public health risk and warrants our urgent attention,” said Tracy Brown, director of western Sound programs for Save the Sound. “It is very concerning to see the high concentration of fecal bacteria in so many rivers and streams that run through our parks and yards, and that ultimately flow into Long Island Sound, often near beaches where we swim. These tributaries have become pollution conveyance systems. Save the Sound has shared this sampling data with the leadership in the 12 communities where we are sampling. We urge them to conduct their own investigations to identify the sources of contamination and work to eliminate them.”

There are a variety of possible sources for high bacteria counts including leaking sewer pipes, overflowing sewer manholes, improperly-maintained septic systems, animal waste, and stormwater runoff which can pick up fecal matter from all of these sources and deliver it to our tributaries, harbors, and shoreline—any place a stormwater pipe discharges.

Staff analyze the samples at Save the Sound’s lab in Mamaroneck, made possible by an EPA equipment loan. An EPA-reviewed quality control protocol guides the process as staff members measure levels of Enterococcus as well as dissolved oxygen, pH, and other indicators of water quality.

“Regular testing to monitor conditions and identify sewage leaks and overflows is critical to achieving and preserving healthy and safe waterways,” said Peter Linderoth, water quality program manager for Save the Sound. “The data that we’ve collected so far this season with the help of our volunteers will be supplemented by the rest of the 2015 sampling season and support our collective efforts to get clean water for all communities around Long Island Sound.”

Historical data about the performance of beaches around the Sound may be viewed on the Sound Health Explorer, an interactive map launched by Save the Sound in July. The Sound Health Explorer currently uses data reported by county and municipal health departments. Save the Sound plans to add its own data, as well as data from other partners, to the tool in the future.

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Save the Sound is a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment with an established 40-year track record of restoring and protecting the waters and shorelines of the Sound. From its offices in New Haven and Mamaroneck, Save the Sound works for a cleaner, healthier, and more vibrant Long Island Sound where humans and marine life can prosper year-round. Our success is based on scientific knowledge, legal expertise, and thousands of ordinary people teaming up achieve results that benefit our environment for current and future generations.

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