Streamwalks Aim to Reduce Bacteria Loads from Stormwater Runoff

This summer, PRWC’s Youth Conservation Corps completed Streamwalk Assessment Surveys of the 9.7 mile length of the Weekeepeemee River in partnership with the towns of Bethlehem and Woodbury and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The river has been identified as not meeting federal water quality standards for safe recreation due to high levels of bacteria in the water, typically after storm events. That bacteria flows downstream to the Pomperaug and Housatonic Rivers and Long Island Sound affecting habitat, beach closures, and other recreational opportunities.

PRWC staff walked the Weekeepeemee River from Woodbury through Bethlehem to evaluate and document observations pertaining to instream habitat conditions, bridges and culverts, erosion, and municipal stormwater outfalls (discharge from storm drains). Based on the findings, PRWC will reach out to municipal land use commissions, agricultural operators, and landowners to discuss retrofit and restoration opportunities to enhance the overall quality of the stream environment and to reduce bacterial inputs to the Weekeepeemee. Implementation of such measures not only benefits the local community, it benefits those living along the Housatonic River, which is now prone to blue-green algae blooms in the summer, and Long Island Sound. The findings, along with a summary of the results of the bacteria sampling over the past few seasons, will be publicly available in an existing conditions report.

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