Category Archives: Environment

Pics Of The Day #856

The other day, Robin Tauck counted 12 terrapin turtle nests on the beach at Compo Cove. Each nesting site has dozens of turtle eggs. Robin worries that walls on nearby properties confuse the mothers, making it difficult to find a place to nest.

(Photos/Robin Tauck)

Osprey: August Update

There was plenty of furor this spring over the Fresh Market ospreys’ nest.

Right now, all seems good.

The nest looked healthy yesterday. Mama was at her perch. Papa was probably at the beach, looking for food.

And Patricia McMahon was there, to take this dramatic photo.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Recycling The Beach

Alert “06880” reader/concerned environmentalist Amy Berkin — a Weston resident who loves Compo Beach, and often picks up straws, bottle caps, candy wrappers and other trash on her early morning visits — writes:

I’ve always wondered why there are so few recycling receptacles at Compo — especially given how many people I see throwing plastic into the trash.

I usually try to bring my plastic home with me to recycle. It seems wrong sitting looking out at the water, knowing that’s where so much plastic winds up.

The other night, I asked someone who was collecting the black trash bags from the receptacles why we don’t recycle at the beach. He explained that the town has never provided clear plastic bags, which are required for recycle collection.

Compo Beach receptacle (Photo/Amy Berkin)

Even though there are a few recycle bins at the beach, it all goes into the same fill because the collection bags are not clear. The town collectors don’t have the manpower to separate the trash (nor should they have to, in my opinion).

I think the general population is conscious enough about the need to recycle. Can’t the town supply clear bags?!

I asked Parks & Recreation Department director Jennifer Fava about this. She replied:

The issue is not about whether or not there are clear bags. The issue is that in public places it is very difficult to actually have separate recycling, as once the bin is contaminated the contents can no longer be recycled. This can occur with just one ice cream wrapper, one used food wrapper, plate, etc.

Pic Of The Day #851

Cleaning the catch, at Sherwood Mill Pond (Photo/Nancy Lewis)

Another Sewer Leak. Another Beach Closure.

This morning, Westport Fire Department personnel were notified that sewage was coming up from a manhole in front of Saugatuck Elementary School.

Public Works was called, and a representative responded. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Parks & Recreation Department, Conservation Department, Marine Police and businesses abutting the Saugatuck River were notified too.

The Sewer Department is working to mitigate the problem. This sewer is separate from — and the discharge “significantly smaller than” — last week’s sewer leakage event downriver, the Fire Department says.

In an abundance of caution, the Westport Weston Health District closed all beaches for swimming until further testing can be done. They advised suspending river activities too.

The good news: It’s not a Saturday.

The other good news: Based on traffic around town, it’s that mid-August time of year when nearly everyone is away. Roads, stores and restaurants are empty. Enjoy!

Sewage coming out of a manhole cover. This is NOT the Riverside avenue scene, but it is the first thing that popped up on a Google Images search.

State: Here’s $40 Million For Cribari Bridge Rehab. Town: Not So Fast…

The state Department of Transportation today released a draft list of projects, under the 2021-24 Transportation Improvement Program.

Included is $20 million in fiscal 2023 — plus $20 million more in fiscal ’24 — for the “rehabilitation/replacement of state-town Bridge #01349, aka William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge.”

For those who haven’t followed the years-long saga, that’s the 133-year-old swing span over the Saugatuck River. It connects Riverside Avenue and Bridge Street.

One view of the William Cribari Bridge … (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

All projects on the list must be evaluated for air quality concerns. Because federal funding is also involved, national regulations — as well as state — must be adhered to.

The Cribari Bridge project may not necessarily be placed into the TIP. No decision is likely on the TIP until at least next summer.

First Selectman Jim Marpe said:

The town of Westport has not endorsed any plans for the Cribari Bridge, and awaits a conclusion to the CTDOT Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation.

As part of the EA/EIE, the DOT established a Project Advisory Committee, and met with this committee several times over the last year. DOT conducted a professional process, and I am confident they have taken away the community’s sentiments and concerns about the Cribari Bridge.

However, the town of Westport neither accepts nor rejects the CTDOT’s budgeted funding of $40 million over the 2 years until it is clear on the specific proposal for the Cribari Bridge, and the community agrees on which solution is the best for the town of Westport.

The Project Advisory Committee reviewed several alternatives for rehabilitation, including a no-build operation, and provided feedback to the DOT. No decision has been made.

The DOT continues to coordinate with other state and federal agencies, as well as various stakeholders, to consider specific concerns, such as impacts on historic properties.

… and another. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

The DOT is expected to issue a preliminary environmental document early next year. There will then be a public hearing and comment period, after which the DOT will make a recommendation of a preferred design alternative. Review by the Federal Highway Administration and state Office of Policy and Management will follow, with a decision announced later.

Marpe added:

My staff and I will stay abreast of the air quality and environmental findings for the Cribari Bridge rehabilitation or replacement options. Thereafter, we will follow the development of the TIP closely. I am committed to keeping the residents and businesses of Westport informed in a timely manner about this very important project.

Pic Of The Day #846

Gloria — the late Alan Sterling’s oyster boat — still sits in Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

Bag It!

Westporters may not have noticed, because over a decade ago we were the first town east of the Mississippi River to ban plastic bags.

But a state law that went into effect August 1 mandates a charge of 10 cents for every single-use plastic bag.

In 2021, they’ll be outlawed completely.

There is no state-mandated charge for paper bags — which, by some estimates, cost up to 10 times more than plastic bags. Paper bags have their own environmental impacts too.

So although we haven’t noticed the plastic bag charge here, we’re seeing its ripple effects.

Many stores — including CVS and Fresh Market — have switched to paper bags without handles. They’re inconvenient, and perhaps a subliminal way to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.

An “06880” reader reports that Walgreens is charging 10 cents for each paper bag.

Meanwhile — reading between the lines of this sign — it looks like Stop & Shop will start charging for paper bags next month.

Unsung Heroes #110

A couple of weeks ago, “06880” put out a call. Earthplace had lost its longtime supplier of food. They needed $14,000 to feed their raptors.

Readers responded immediately. But 2 young people went waaaaay beyond the call of duty.

Sienna DeSantis organized a lemonade stand on the hottest Sunday of the year. She raised $250.

Sienna DeSantis, and her lemonade stand.

Rising Staples High School senior Emma Borys works in the Earthplace Animal Hall. She donated her salary from 2 holidays — July 4th, and this coming Labor Day — to the campaign.

Emma Borys at work.

The ravens, owls, hawks and eagles thank you!

(Hat tip: Sophie Pollmann. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Beaches Open: Everyone Into The Water!

Earlier this afternoon, the Westport Weston Health District gave the all-clear.

Westport beaches are now safe for swimming. They were closed on Saturday afternoon, following a sewage spill.

Compo Beach was almost empty today. Tomorrow, the crowds will return.

Weather permitting, of course.

Jump for joy! The water’s fine! (Photo/Richard Wiese)

(Hat tip: Amy Schneider)