Water Quality

Water of Long Island Sound               Warming and Rising Waters               Rivers, Lakes, and Estuaries               Drinking Water

Climate Change Indicator

Quick Summary - x x x Swimming

Coastal swimmers saw more beach actions in 2019 than in 2018.

The chart displays both closings and advisories since 2009, which from a water quality perspective are functional equivalents. This is different than prior years when only closings were displayed. The data is from the U.S. EPA Beach Advisory and Closing Online Notification  (BEACON2) ) system. It includes information on pollution occurrences in coastal recreation waters for 73 beaches along the Connecticut shoreline in 2019. The beach-specific advisories or closings are issued by the reporting state or local government entity. There were 254 beach action days in 2019, 95 percent (242) of which were closures and approximately 15 percent (12) were advisories. There were 102 beach actions in 2019, over 82 percent of beach actions were preemptive while the remaining 18 percent of the beach actions were the result of (sampled) elevated bacteria. All of the preemptive actions in 2019 were attributed to rainfall or the result of a sanitary sewer overflow or sewer line leak/release. 

While Fairfield County had approximately 41 percent of all reporting beaches, those beaches were responsible for 91 percent of all beach actions in 2019. Because the number of beaches varies by county, the Council utilizes a ratio of beaches reporting to beach actions to illustrate the relative impact that pollution has had on coastal recreation waters. The western half of the coastline has more sewer systems with overflows and more paved surfaces that send contaminated runoff into the waters.

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: 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 Fort Hale Park Beach in New Haven, CT for 98 days. Data indicates that almost half (289) of all actions in 2011 occurred on or immediately after August 28, 2011.There was a maximum storm surge of approximately 3.5 feet and very large waves ranging from 5-15 feet. Coastal damage was greatest from Westport to Old Saybrook. Rainfall for Irene was moderate to heavy in eastern Connecticut (2-5 inches) and very heavy in western Connecticut (up to 10 inches).