Ocean Beach Park in New London ranks among the cleanest beaches along Long Island Sound, according to a new study. Photo Credit: Save The Sound
Pear Tree Point Beach in Darien in stormier times. This beach ranked among the cleanest in rainy weather and dry weather. Photo Credit: Charles Barthold

How Your Beach Ranks In Clean Water Quality

Three beaches in Fairfield County rank among the cleanest beaches along Long Island Sound, according to a new study of water quality covering the past three years.

Stamford's Quigley Beach and East (Cove Island) Beach as well as Pear Tree Point Beach -- which is open to Darien residents only -- averaged the highest grades during wet and dry weather conditions from 2016 through 2018, according to this report by Save the Sound.

The report highlighted the “Top 20” beaches on Long Island Sound based on water quality, and, for the first time, presented comprehensive grades for 204 swimming beaches in New York and Connecticut. 

Other beaches ranking among the top 10 in Connecticut are in Madison, Groton, East Lyme, Old Lyme and Waterford.

Connecticut beaches receiving poor grades for water quality last year were Seaside Park, Sasco, Southport and Hickory Bluff beaches

High rainfall impacts water quality at beaches in a number of ways, including by diverting untreated sewage directly into the Sound in locations which use combined stormwater and sewer pipes, or those locations with decaying and damaged pipes. With increased rainfall levels leading to added beach closure days, even in the sunny days following heavy rain, Save the Sound is urging communities to invest in improved sewer treatment and handling capacity, as well as to increase testing at impacted beaches. Save the Sound has successfully lobbied for state funding in both Connecticut and New York to assist municipalities in upgrading their wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

Tracy Brown, director of Save the Sound, said, “Long Island Sound beaches are an integral part of the lives of millions of beachgoers each year. We’re pleased to see so many beaches testing water quality regularly and offering public access for swimmers and beachgoers to enjoy the Sound safely. At the same time, we know that beaches practically next door to one another can have vastly different water quality, especially if local stormwater and sewer lines are combined or are in poor condition."

The report details safe swimming conditions at numerous beaches, but noted that continued rain-triggered water pollution is a harbinger of future challenges. Save the Sound also unveiled an upgraded website dedicated to providing public access to over a decade of water quality data for Sound beaches, at www.SoundHealthExplorer.org.

Save the Sound’s Beach Report offers good news for swimmers and beachgoers, highlighting dozens of beaches on both sides of the Sound that consistently earn top grades for water quality. On average, Long Island Sound beaches met safe-swimming criteria more than 93 percent of the time from 2016 through 2018. 

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