How Healthy Are Our Rivers?

Westport’s waterways look beautiful.

You just don’t see the bacteria.

Harbor Watch — the Earthplace-based research and education program — has just released a study of water quality in rivers throughout Fairfield County. All 4 of the Westport rivers studied are not as healthy as they look.

Muddy Brook — which discharges into Sherwood Mill Pond — and Pussy Willow Brook, a Mill Pond tributary, exceeded state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection criteria for E. coli.

Two rivers empty into Sherwood Mill Pond. (Drone photo/Patrick Sikes)

Sasco Brook failed DEEP criteria for bacteria. So did the Saugatuck River — which, with 2 sewage spills last summer, also showed elevated Enterococci concentrations.

The good news: our rivers are pretty good in terms of dissolved oxygen. That’s an important water quality indicator, because many aquatic species rely on it for survival.

Overall, 77% of the 123 field stations studied by Harbor Watch exceeded either 1 or both of the state criteria for acceptable levels of baceria. Click here for the full report.

5 responses to “How Healthy Are Our Rivers?

  1. And when is anyone going to do something about Gloria in Grays Creek?

    • Michael Calise

      Sorry Deej, Gloria is not in Grays Creek it is on private property and except for a properly installed and maintained outboard motor system there is noting in or on Gloria which has any potential of polluting the waterways. Perhaps you should talk about the former Longshore landfill on the other side of Gray’s Creek and the reason why the entire Grays Creek area is off-limits for shell fishing.

  2. I wonder when the Town of Westport going to remove the 5,000 yards of “dirty fill” it illegally dumped in Barons South Park? The fill is contaminated with, among other things, DDT, and has been carelessly left exposed to the weather. Thus the runoff from the pile is flowing into the Saugatuck River.

  3. Important catch, Dan. Harbor Watch is also studying Stony Brook (in my nabe), which flows into Nash’s Pond, and eventually into LIS. The kids are doing important work, which I am supporting financially. Urge others do the same (via Earthplace) before end of year tax deadline.

  4. This is an important report and thank you for make this available to the wider community. What are the solutions?