Big Trash Pick-Up: Volunteers to Clean Connecticut's Shoreline

A year ago, 2,450 volunteers in Connecticut removed 16,310 pounds of trash from Long Island Sound’s shoreline and Connecticut waterways. This weekend, the effort continues, as bird watchers, fishermen, sailors, scuba divers, students, citizen groups and businesses will be cleaning up trash from Connecticut’s beaches, islands, and rivers as part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

Save the Sound, the Connecticut coordinator for the ICC for the past 11 years, has worked with cleanup captains to organize public clean-ups at 25 locations across the state this weekend. (See partial list below.)  The cleanups will continue throughout September and October.  Interested volunteepeoplecleanrs should check the calendar for listings of clean-ups and to register.

ICC, created by the Ocean Conservancy, is now in its 28th year and has participation in all 55 U.S. states and territories and 100 countries around the world. It is a unique event in that volunteers tally up all garbage they pick up on data cards, which are sent to Ocean Conservancy for analysis. They use the information to track trends in marine debris and help stop it at its source. Last year, more than 550,000 people picked up more than 10 million pounds of trash along nearly 20,000 miles of coastline worldwide.

Bank of America is Lead Sponsor of Save the Sound’s ICC Cleanups in Connecticut, and employees from the company are leading and participating in a cleanup at Jennings Beach in Fairfield on Saturday, as well as co-leading a cleanup with the New Haven Rotary club at Lighthouse Point Park.

Working in both New York and Connecticut, Save the Sound has established a 40-year track record of restoring and protecting the waters and shorelines of the Sound.  A program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Save the Sound recently received a $50,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation to support its green infrastructure work in partnership with the City of Bridgeport and the Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority. The grant will further Save the Sound's efforts to work with towns to implement innovative installations that act like sponges to absorb and filter stormwater runoff, thereby reducing flooding and improving the water quality of Long Island Sound.

For a complete list of the over 43 ICC cleanups happening in Connecticut throughout September and October, please visit A Facebook page has additional information.

Saturday, September 21

NEW HAVEN, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Bank of America, New Haven Rotary Club, and Save the Sound executive director Curt Johnson at Lighthouse Point Park.

FAIRFIELD,  9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Bank of America cleanup at Jennings Beach.

NEW LONDON,10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Local citizen cleanups at Ocean Beach and Alewife Cove Tidal Creek.

 Sunday, September 22

WESTPORT, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

 Friends of Sherwood Island State Park and National Charity League of Ridgefield will hold cleanups at Sherwood Island.

MILFORD, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

The Boy Scouts will hold two cleanups at Audubon Coastal Center and Gulf Beach.

Connecticut Ranks 17th in Beach Closings/Advisories in 2012

As the summer beach season moves into full swing, Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, is calling attention to the number of days that Connecticut beaches had to be closed, or were under public advisories during 2012 due to environmental or related factors. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) annual “Testing the Waters” report, issued last week, found that Connecticut beaches were closed or under advisories for 198 days in 2012. That is down from 538 in 2011 but still more than twice the number of closings/advisories in 2010, 2009, or 2008.

The report analyzes beach closure and advisory statistics from beaches around the U.S.; Connecticut ranked 17th out of the 30 states listed.testing the waters

According to the NRDC report, 22 percent of Connecticut’s closing/advisory days last year were due to monitoring that revealed elevated bacteria levels and 29 percent were preemptive due to heavy rainfall, which can overwhelm outdated stormwater systems and wash untreated sewage into rivers and the Sound. The remaining days were preemptive due to wildlife.

The beaches with the worst records for exceeding the state's daily maximum bacterial standard were Pear Tree Point Beach in Fairfield County and Seabluff Beach in New Haven County, which tested above the maximum 28 percent of the time; Oak Street B Beach in New Haven County at 20 percent; and Fairfield County’s Calf Pasture Beach, Weed Beach, and Rowayton Beach, all at 19 percent.

“When it comes to clean water, being ‘middle-of-the-pack’ is not good enough,” said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “One out of every ten American citizens lives within an hour’s drive of Long Island Sound, and they deserve clean, safe beaches—even one closing because of bacteria and pollution is too many.”

“Just an inch of rain in 24 hours causes many local health departments around the Sound to shut down beaches. Drought conditions may provide the perfect beach weather—no rain means no contamination from stormwater runoff—but we can’t rely on Mother Nature to do our pollution control for us. If we want to enjoy our coastline, eat local seafood, and promote tourism along the shore, rain or shine, we have to be proactive. That means stopping pollution at the source by upgrading our sewage treatment plants, separating the combined sewer overflows that dump almost two billion gallons of untreated sewage into our waterways each year, and investing in innovative stormwater runoff solutions like drain filters and green infrastructure.”DSC04553cropped

By comparison, the same NRDC report found that Westchester County in New York lost 112 beach days in 2012, and that New York State ranked 22nd out of 30 states, up from 24th in 2011.

Two Westchester County beaches had the first- and third-worst records in the state for the number of water samples that exceeded the state bacterial standard. Bacterial levels at Shore Acres Club in Mamaroneck tested above the standard fully 50 percent of the time, and Surf Club in New Rochelle exceeded 35 percent of the time. Overall, Westchester County beach samples exceeded the standard 14 percent of the time, making Westchester the fourth-worst tested county in New York. Bronx County, which also affects water quality in the western Sound, came in at number three.

Save the Sound issues weekly Sound Swim Alerts for Connecticut and Westchester County to inform residents when beaches are open for swimming and when they are closed. The alerts can be found on Save the Sound’s blog.

beach chart

Additional info on water pollution, contamination and depletion.