Coastal swimmers saw fewer beach actions in 2020 than in 2019.
The chart displays both closings and advisories at Connecticut’s public beaches since 2011, which from a water quality perspective are functional equivalents. This is different than prior years when only closings were displayed. The data, derived from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Beach Advisory and Closing Online Notification (BEACON2) system, includes information on pollution occurrences in coastal recreation waters for 72 reporting beaches along the Connecticut shoreline in 2020. The beach-specific advisories or closings* are issued by the reporting state or local government entity. There were 80 beach action days in 2020, 63 (79 percent) of which were closures and 17 (21 percent) were advisories. There were 23 beach action days (29 percent) that were preemptive due to rainfall, 39 beach action days (49 percent) due to elevated bacteria levels, and 18 (22 percent) beach action days were preemptive due to a sewage discharge or spill.32
While New London County had approximately 18 percent of all reporting beaches, those beaches were responsible for 26 percent of all beach action days in 2020. Because the number of beaches varies by county, the Council utilizes a ratio of beach action days to the number of reporting beaches in each county to illustrate the relative impact that pollution has had on coastal recreation waters. Typically, the western half of the coastline, which has more impervious surfaces, sees the most beach actions. In 2020, this was not the case and was perhaps due to less runoff during the summer drought and/or to unidentified factors that were associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goal: The goal for keeping beaches open is to cut the number of beach closings in half by 2035 (from 2014, with the number for 2014 calculated using a five-year rolling average). This goal was identified in the 2015 edition of the Long Island Sound Study's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
Technical Note: *During a beach closure, water conditions are deemed unsafe for swimmers and other users. A beach advisory is a warning and users decide whether they wish to risk going into the water. An action can be based on a model or policy and not be a monitored beach. The high number of beach actions in 2011 may be attributed to Tropical Storm Irene, which impacted Connecticut on August 28, 2011 and the closure of Fort Hale Park Beach in New Haven, CT for 98 days. **In 2020, Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport was closed for the season due to COVID 19.
32 Connecticut Department of Public Health and EPA, Beach Advisory and Closing On-line Notification, watersgeo.epa.gov/beacon2/reports.html