State of the Beach/State Reports/CT

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Connecticut

Summary

Connecticut has done an excellent job providing information to the public regarding beach access and has an aggressive program of land acquisition to expand access to the coast, despite the fact that a high percentage of the coastline is privately owned. There's also an excellent water quality testing program and generally good ocean water quality. The state could benefit from an inventory of coastal erosion areas and public education on this subject. The state website would be enhanced by the addition of maps, links to publications, and more information on beach health indicators.

Connecticut Ratings


Indicators

(+) A new state park will be developed at the former Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford expanding shore-line recreational opportunities for Connecticut residents and visitors.

(+) In June 2014 Northeast Ocean Data announced the release of easy-to-use interactive maps of water quality data for the northeastern states from New York to Maine. Based on data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the maps display No Discharge Zones, impaired waters, and wastewater discharges. Also shown on the maps are boundaries of watersheds and subwatersheds in the region. To view the water quality maps, go here.

(+) In 2012, after much contentious debate, legislation was passed to minimize “shoreline armoring” in favor of "feasible, less environmentally damaging alternatives." But see below for a setback in 2013.

(+) The Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) is a state and federal partnership that facilitates the New England states, federal agencies, regional organizations, and other interested regional groups in addressing ocean and coastal issues that benefit from a regional response. It is NROC’s mission to provide a voluntary forum for New England states and federal partners to coordinate and collaborate on regional approaches to support balanced uses and conservation of the Northeast region’s ocean and coastal resources.

(+) In November 2007 Connecticut received a "blue ribbon" award from the federal Environmental Protection Agency for a pollution credit trading system designed to reduce nitrogen pollution in Long Island Sound from wastewater treatment plants. Around the same time, the state legislature approved $415 million in Clean Water Revenue Bonds, which provide loans to cities and towns to upgrade sewage treatment plants.

(+) A measure signed by President Bush in October 2006 authorizes $100 million for land acquisition, habitat protection and expanded public access in selected shoreline areas, and a list of 33 sites in New York and Connecticut where the money may be spent has been compiled.

(+) On June 5, 2008 the Long Island Sound (LIS) Fund Advisory Committee voted, it its most recent funding round, to award $310,613 in grants for 14 projects to help preserve and protect Long Island Sound.

(+) The Connecticut Coastal Access Guide is available online.

(+) DEP completed a 2-year survey of beach and rocky intertidal zone invertebrates.

(+) Connecticut's Coastal Non-point Source Pollution Control (CNP) Program received EPA and NOAA approval in November 2003

(+) Under EPA’s Clean New England Beaches initiative the Connecticut Beach Grant Program received a $223,370 grant in 2006. The program funds the monitoring of 67 beaches in Connecticut by 21 municipal health departments in addition to the state Department of Public Health.

(+) In 2002 the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that all municipal beaches must be opened to non-residents.

(0) 48 miles of Connecticut's shoreline were determined in 1979 to be significantly affected by erosion. It should be noted that the 48 miles designated as eroding in 1979 were identified in conjunction with the identification of a total of 278 miles of shoreline “fronting” Long Island Sound (LIS). In 2005, due to changes in resource categorizations, only 113 miles of shoreline were judged to be directly fronting LIS, so it has not been determined how much of the 113 miles of shoreline are significantly affected.

(-) In 2013, in a contentious standoff, legislation passed allowing an easier path to upgrade seawalls, though it fell far short of an initial proposal that would have lifted most seawall restrictions.

(-) A major sewer spill estimated at 28 million gallons occurred on December 12, 2008 in Greenwich due to a sewer main break. The water flowed to the Mianus River and then into Long Island Sound. The sewer main was not repaired until December 16.

(-) Very few educational materials about coastal hazards and the risks associated with living in coastal hazard zones have been developed.

(-) DEP's Clean Water Fund website only has information through 2001.

(-) In 2005, CDEP identified a total of 1,065 shoreline miles as broken out under Beach Access. Of this, 69% is considered privately owned. If only beaches/bays/harbors/coves are considered, private ownership is 72%.

Victories

  • Northeast Regional Ocean Planning We are pleased to announce that on December 7, 2016, the National Ocean Council certified the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, launching us headlong into a more sustainable future and a paradigm shift in ocean management that looks at the ocean holistically as a system, rather than managing piecemeal by agency, spatial boundary, specific use, threat or species. Learn more by reading (and sharing!) our Coastal Blog. Now that the ocean plan is final, the Surfrider Foundation will engage in the vital work of implementation. Our staff and volunteers will continue to participate in ocean planning meetings to improve the iterative plan so that it best represents our goals in protecting the ocean and coastal ecosystems, and recreational areas. We'll be calling upon our ocean industry leader friends - surf shop owners, kayak tour guides, beachside pub and restaurant owners, SUP racers and the like - to help us engage locally as federal and state agencies begin to fully utilize the best practices established in the plan, and integrate the inherent expertise of our coastal communities and ocean users into decision-making processes that will inform the future of the sea.
  • Microbeads, BANNED in Connecticut! Microbeads bills made great progress in the CT General Assembly in 2015, but a final bill was unfortunately not called by the senate prior to adjournment. However, due to the quick thinking of Connecticut legislators, language from the HB 5286 microbeads ban - which contained suggestions we made in testimony to close loopholes - was introduced in the state budget bill, and passed (General Assembly bill 1502, section 50). Governor Malloy signed the budget into law on June 30, 2015. More details.
  • Rec Use Characterization Proposal The Surfrider Foundation Northeast Region is heavily engaged in Regional Ocean Planning efforts. Our goal is to be proactive in protecting coastal and ocean ecosystems and recreational areas, before they're threatened. Along with strong partner organizations, SeaPlan and Point 97, Surfrider Foundation submitted a project proposal for the Northeast Regional Planning Body's RFP, to develop products characterizing spatial patterns of coastal and marine recreational activity in New England. Our proposal was selected, and we will be leading the way for everyday ocean recreation users - like surfers, beach strollers, wildlife watchers, kayakers and divers - to fill a data gap in the Northeast that will assist ocean planners in considering recreational areas as they plan to organize for current and future uses of the sea. Contact our Northeast Regional Coordinator for more information: mgates@surfrider.org.
  • Westport Connecticut Votes to Ban Plastic Checkout Bags The Town of Westport, Connecticut, which is on a tidal estuary, Long Island Sound, voted on September 2, 2008 to ban plastic checkout bags at retail stores, becoming the first town on the East Coast to go plastic bag-free. At the stroke of midnight, the Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved a resolution, in a 26 to 5 vote (with 1 abstention), giving retailers six months to stop using disposable plastic bags at the checkout. This resolution is the first of its kind east of the Mississippi. Kasey Jacobs, Vice-Chair of the Connecticut Surfrider Chapter stated at the public hearing, "Since their introduction to U.S. supermarkets in the late 1970's plastic bags have become a ubiquitous presence. Forty years is not a long enough time period to consider them irreplaceable though. No one is inferring that Westport can solve this global problem single-handedly, but this ban is about Westport doing its part and helping further spread this global movement. We can not ignore the fact that our oceans are connected. By voting yes tonight the RTM will forever put the Town of Westport on the map as being the first town on the East Coast to become plastic bag free." The chapter partnered with Citizens Campaign for the Environment on the campaign. More info on the chapter's Rise Above Plastics campaign.
  • Stopped LNG Terminal in Long Island Sound Surfrider Foundation’s Connecticut Chapter won a major victory in their campaign to stop the installation of a huge and dangerous Liquid Natural Gas project in Long Island Sound. Connecticut officials and environmental groups have been applying heavy pressure on New York State officials who had the final say on go/no-go. In late April 2008, NY Governor Patterson announced at a press conference NY's decision to effectively scuttle the project. Connecticut's Governor Jody Rell and AG Richard Blumenthal also held a press conference on the shores of the Sound. Mr. Blumenthal, who has been a consistent presence in the fight to stop this project, called this "an excellent case study of citizens advocacy, when government and citizens groups work together” to accomplish a common goal. Dozens of environmental advocacy groups, including the Surfrider Foundation, applied constant pressure to stop Broadwater through a wide range of actions, and found a cooperative state government that listened and worked in concert with us. As Mr. Blumenthal said, "citizens and state governments have shown today that it is possible to fight the Federal Government and win."

To see all of Surfrider Foundation's coastal victories and campaigns, go here.



State of the Beach Report: Connecticut
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