Thursday, March 31, 2005

Raw Sewage, Rain, and a Continuing Problem

This week's heavy rains were a reminder that there's still plenty to be ashamed of when it comes to water quality and Long Island Sound, and indeed in the entire urbanized northeast. Heavy rains become conveyor belts of raw sewage and contaminants into the Sound and its tributaries. Seven or eight cities near the Sound -- including New York City, Bridgeport and New Haven -- still have sewers that are designed to empty untreated sewage into the Sound and other waterways when it rains. In other towns, the sewers are so old and poorly maintained that rainwater seeps in and forces sewage out. And of course in many places the streets are filthy enough so that stormwater in heavily contaminated.

Newsday reported yesterday that the heavy rains forced state officials to shut down shellfish beds on the north shore of Long Island, to make sure that nobody eats oysters or clams loaded with pathogens. I didn't see any reports from Connecticut but I'm certain that Connecticut officials did the same. Assuming it doesn't rain again soon, the beds will remain closed to shellfishing for a week to 10 days. Only the Providence Journal seems to be giving this story the emphasis it deserves, focusing on Narragansett Bay of course rather than the Sound.


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