Council on Environmental Quality Report Shows Status Quo for Environment in 2012

With spring weather in full bloom and the out-of-doors looking increasingly attractive, it is worth pausing for a brief review of the recently completed analysis of the state of the environment in Connecticut, circa 2012.   The Council on Environmental Quality does just that in its 40th edition of Environmental Quality in Connecticut.

Among the statistical highlights, which describe some slight improvements and some slight fallback during the year, are these 15eagle1 noteworthy items:

  1. Shoreline beaches were closed for fewer days in 2012 than in 2011, but 2011 was the worst year on record; the number of closings in 2012 was well above the long-term average.
  2. Drinking water improved, with 99.8 percent of all water piped to customers (2.8 million people) meeting health standards. That percentage was 99.7 in the previous year.
  3. Connecticut had 338 good air days, four fewer than in 2011. Two "personal impact" indicators -- miles driven and bus trips taken -- showed improvement but have yet to yield discernible air quality benefits.
  4. DEEP preserved 341 acres of land and state grants helped municipalities and land trusts acquire an additional 740 acres
  5. The state preserved 689 acres of agricultural land, down from the 1,975 acres preserved in 2011
  6. The portion of the Sound that was safe for marine life all summer declined; more widespread hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) in Long Island Sound
  7. Approximately 80 miles of rivers received overflows of sewage during storms
  8. Bald eagles remained in Connecticut, even in our larger cities, with no decline from last year
  9. 99.8 percent of all water piped to customers met health standards, up .1 percent from 2011
  10. The average resident took the bus at a frequency not seen since 2001, approximately 11.41 trips per person
  11. Progress toward the statewide goal of recycling was stagnant with only 24 percent of solid waste recycled
  12. 27,141 households purchased clean energy, up marginally from 2011
  13. The average resident took the bus at a frequency not seen since 2001, approximately 11.41 trips per person
  14. Compliance with environmental laws and regulations at inspected facilities declined slightly
  15. Land conservation results failed to put Connecticut back on track toward its goals.

The Council’s report also calls attention to changes in Long Island Sound: sea level is rising at a faster rate, the water is warming, and southern species of fish are moving in as colder-water species move out. The Council says that the state needs to pay attention to the gradual changes, as gradual changes can become sudden changes.

The report also notes that many of the persistent problems in Connecticut’s environment, including summertime air pollution and low oxygen levels in the Sound, are made worse by a warming climate.