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Save the Sound targets Norwalk Harbor as part of new program

NORWALK, Conn. — A groundbreaking water testing program that will dramatically increase available data on the health of Long Island Sound, a press release said.

Save the Sound, bi-state non-profit organization, has launched an effort titled Unified Water Study: Long Island Sound Embayment Research, to test water conditions in the Sound’s bays and harbors, the release said.

Leaders of the effort met with the press Tuesday, dockside at the Maritime Aquarium, to demonstrate their methods.

“We are going over the field procedures that all the teams take when they are out on the water,” Save the Sound Project Coordinator Linderoth said, explaining that 12 groups will be studying the Sound in 24 locations, ranging from Westchester County, NY to Stonington.

The groups go out twice a month in the early morning, and collect data on dissolved oxygen, plant matter, clarity, temperature and salinity, he said.

“One of the great things about this study, and it’s in the name, Unified Water Studies, we are all doing this the same way,” Linderoth said, explaining that the Aquarium is testing six locations in the outer harbor..

Save the Sound already issues a closely watched “report card” on the health of the estuary, the press release said.

“More than a decade of federally funded monitoring of the open Sound has documented the destructive impact of nitrogen pollution—including algae blooms, red tides, loss of tidal marshes, and fish die-offs—and the incremental improvements brought about by wastewater treatment plant upgrades,” the release said.

“However, recent scientific research has shown that conditions in the bays and harbors –where much of the public comes into contact with the Sound – can be different from conditions in the open waters,” the release said. “More testing on bays and harbors is needed to judge the effect of nitrogen on these inlets and what action is still needed to restore them to vibrant life.”

7 comments

Rick June 8, 2017 at 1:24 am

Peter get the data the state has been keeping on the testing of the Norwalk river using shore front parks beach as a collection point over the last several months.

Then test the river that exits under Oyster shell park ,test the plume each tide for a day and give Norwalk a clean bill of health.

I trust this testing isn’t politically motivated.

John Thomas Pinto June 8, 2017 at 1:54 am

Dear Mr. Linderoth,

Your efforts to measure nitrogen levels are critical to understanding ammonium ion to nitrate conversion relative to oxygen consumption. But as long as we allow stormwater runoff from major roadways (I95)to directly enter our harbors, there are many more nitrogen compounds that need to be considered. Please see my article below that will be published in the Summer version of the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission’s Newsletter.

Let’s Get Off the OH-PAH-PAH Band Wagon
By John Thomas Pinto, Ph.D.
Norwalk Harbor Management Commission

The sound of a marching band is influenced by the OH-PAH-PAHs of big brass tubas. However, OH-PAH-PAHs have now become the “buzz” word for pollutants that influence the Sound of Long Island. OH-PAH-PAHs represent the persistent class of toxic chemicals that coat our highways and, through stormwater runoff, wash into our Harbors. Due to the daily volume of traffic over the I95 Yankee Doodle Bridge, this stretch of roadway represents the major contributor of these contaminants in Norwalk Harbor. Hydroxylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OH-PAHs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are pollutants generated mainly from vehicle emissions, smoke and soot from combustion engines, and material left behind by vehicle tires. OH-PAH-PAHs bind readily to dust and dirt particles that get picked up by rainwater as it pours across the stretch of I95 between Exits 14 and 16. The rainwater mixture over this impervious surface flows either from storm drains or directly into Norwalk Harbor.

OH-PAH-PAHs are major concerns in the environment and cause health issues which we need to understand. The impact of these toxins extends to plants, marine organisms, birds, and animals. Of considerable importance is the ability of OH-PAH-PAHs to rapidly degrade within the aquatic environment. Usually “degradation” refers to a decomposition of these chemicals to less toxic substances. However, the Environment Protection Agency has shown that the degradation of OH-PAH-PAHs by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun greatly enhances their toxicity. The mortality of marine organisms from OH-PAH-PAHs is strongly related to the extent of UV-A (320-400 nm) exposure.

Shellfish are at particular risk for the phototoxic effects of these contaminants because of their accumulation within the sediment. Once OH-PAH-PAHs are incorporated into sediments they are somewhat immobile because of their highly fat-soluble nature that limits them from dissolving completely in water. High temperatures coupled with solar radiation accelerate OH-PAH-PAHs photodegradation which explains the seasonal cycle of their toxicity particular during summer months. Juvenile clams (0.5-2.0 mm) when exposed to UV-treated OH-PAH-PAHs for 96 hours either lose their ability to rebury in control sediment or exhibit a reduced capacity to do so.
Short-term health effects of OH-PAH-PAHs on humans depend mainly on the length and route of exposure and the amount to which one is exposed. Occupational exposures to high levels of OH-PAH-PAHs have resulted in symptoms such as eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and confusion. Mixtures of OH-PAH-PAHs on skin cause marked irritation and inflammation. Long-term health effects of OH-PAH-PAHs are more problematic and include decreased immune function, cataracts, kidney and liver damage, and lung abnormalities (asthma-like symptoms). Chronic exposures to these hydrocarbons can also cause fetal mutations, developmental malformations, and tumors. Of particular concern regarding cancers is that solar modifications of OH-PAH-PAHs cause them to have steroid hormone (estrogenic)-like properties and thus can influence hormone-sensitive pathways in urinary bladder, colon, breast and prostate tissue.

UV radiation also enhances toxicity of OH-PAH-PAHs to algal species by greatly decreasing their growth. The irony of these effects on algal blooms and the trend toward less turbid water and greater penetration of UV light to river and lake bottoms is that this can lead to greater phototoxicity from sediment-bound OH-PAH-PAHs.

In closing, with rehabilitation of the Yankee Doodle Bridge currently underway, we have an excellent opportunity to eliminate these pollutions from Norwalk Harbor. The Norwalk Harbor Management Commission looks forward to measures that the Department of Transportation (DOT) will take to prevent stormwater discharge directly into the Norwalk River and to minimize OH-PAH-PAH contamination of Norwalk Harbor. Guidance and the authority vested in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will be required to assist in these matters. Most importantly, our state legislators need to assure that the DOT complies with best management practices to control pollution into Long Island Sound. Use of stormwater control systems over the Yankee Doodle Bridge would not only benefit Norwalk Harbor, but would be applicable to other highway bridges crossing Connecticut’s coastal waterways.

Tony D'Andrea June 8, 2017 at 10:14 am

Does the State of Connecticut have a storm water management plan?

If so, lets take a closer look to determine if the storm water entering our harbor from state roads and cascading from state bridges is consistent with current environmental guidelines (clean water act). If we find that the plan is faulty or there is no plan at all we must take action to protect the critters,the environment, and Norwalk Harbor water quality as a whole.

Shouldn’t the Save the Sound folks be coordinating efforts with the Norwalk health department, Norwalk WPCA, Norwalk Watershed initiative under the direction of the Mayor’s Water quality committee to come up with a plan to determine challenges while proposing and implementing measures to improve the “Health of the Harbor”?

BTW….haven’t heard anything from the Norwalk Watershed Initiative or the Norwalk Mayor’s water quality committee for a while.. Who is monitoring our most precious resource? When do they meet? Who are the members? I suggest we get Norwalk’s environmental machine cranked up to again monitor and protect or most precious resource… Norwalk Harbor.

Rick June 8, 2017 at 2:42 pm

@John excellent letter great information.

may I add our state legislators gave us drain sponges something the EPA never really embraced. From collection to disposal Norwalk never had a plan. It was a disgrace.

I assume with your background you have read the final report from the EPA on Oyster shell park, Norwalk or the State needed to maintain an eye on that site, have they is the question. It was capped but never remediated(ticking time bomb)

Then a few years back broke the cap for a sewage line break but back then never notified the state until someone from Norwalk inquired about the exposed piles of contamination along the walkway while the line was fixed. It was suppose to be in the deed preventing disturbing the cap without a permit.

please note the Ryan park deed will reflect the same kind of assurance its cap not disturbed without a permit from the state.

My thoughts on what the State has found in the river thru testing for the last several months must be in the hands of the city one would assume.

Having three buried hazardous waste cells in the Norwalk river seems like a forgotten step child yet the danger of those cells will never go away unless the contamination is removed and sent to a proper burial location.

A reason given at the time was the contamination was so bad it was not allowed in the sound I could be wrong and bought into rumors.

I guess if the state has the Oyster shell paperwork and the types of contamination still present and if found in the river by their testing the run off from the highway may be secondary or not an issue at all.

Keeping Norwalks house in order is a large task considering the contamination that still exists along the river.

Does the city have the paperwork for the contamination taken out of the ground via a complex manifold recovery system on water street next to Sono Seafood? If not why not? water table there is what 9 inches?

I found when the city violated the long Island sound program recently and was fined notice of violation #lis-17 no 40317 FV date was 2 24 17 clearly Norwalk had no one making sure things were done right.

Its not hard to fathom why the State ignores Norwalk when our city seems to be oblivious to what is sent into the river not via the bridge.

Ill leave you with one thought that I agree with

The impact of these toxins extends to plants, marine organisms, birds, and animals.

What about those fishermen who catch and take home for the family table also along the river is it safe from them also?

then you talk to Fish and Wildlife they have their own cautions along the river and outer harbor they take seriously, would any of those precautions be passed along to our residents as well?

Why with all the work at GGP and other spots in the city why hasn’t Norwalk been blessed with an environmental office checking all the sites in the city during any cleanup or capping process?

With your background and our State reps ability to get grants for everything else unless we have someone over seeing whats going on why would the state take Norwalk seriously.

Fines the city have received , and may be liable for during current investigations would almost pay for an Environmental officer would it not?

I respect your input but what about the rest of the issues Norwalk should be looking into seems we need someone who has experience in the field , know what to look for or has the ability to work with the city boards ensuring the city Is doing the right thing before the fines or before permits are even issued.

The city owes Norwalk Harbor Management Commission all the tools to ensure all the bases are covered. Unless they have the taxpayers are still wondering who is watching the henhouse.

Rick June 8, 2017 at 3:19 pm

@ Tony there are people who work within the state who opposed returning the removed contamination to the Norwalk river after the vets dock job ,where did the commission stand on that? Where did the rest of the contamination go that was not returned to the river?

reason the state gave permission was, the contamination was the same along the river as the dirt taken out so returning it was ok wow!

It sounds like what I have been asking all along who is helping the commission? I use to attend the meetings I was impressed with your agendas.

I and our dear friend John Franks did a lot of the legwork years ago together.

We found the power plant testing for chemicals along the outer ring of the plant weekly making sure any chemicals they found was not theirs but from places like Meadow st and woodward ave in Village creek area.

Does the commission know if those tests are still done now that the plant is just maintaining equipment still on site?

I just sent something @ John and found what your asking is what I had asked also who is in charge who cares? Why don’t we have an environmental officer. The fire dept could use some expertise as well we both just recently called for a sheen on the Norwalk river.

I would suggest until Norwalk takes the environment seriously provide the phone numbers that matter

the state spill response number and the Coast Guard spill number and get the reported spill list from Dennis Shane and publish them it will give the residents a chance to see what goes on and what your commission is up against.

It also will give the commission extra eyes along our coastal responsibility. A lot of people care give them someway to help if they see or suspect something.

Tony D'Andrea June 9, 2017 at 11:24 am

@Rick

Thanks for the support. Dr Pinto remains on the NHMC. I am no longer affiliated. John Frank and Terry Backer (RIP) have set the groundwork. We cannot backslide due to the lack of support by East Ave.

Please tell me who is on the Norwalk Mayor’s Water Quality Committee?
When do they meet? Please also inform me as to Norwalk’s participation on the Norwalk Watershed initiative? who is in charge, when do they meet?

As for the issue concerning the inter-tidal area of vets park… I suggest you call DeeP and ask for a copy of the permit that was issued after the Notice of Violation. You will be amazed.

Only way we can make a difference is to continue to ask questions,report issues of concern, and mobilize to protect the jewel of Long Island Sound… Norwalk Harbor.

Rick June 9, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Went to a city meeting last night and it was even asked if the NHMC was going to way in on a very important permit effecting village creek where the board has very little to no experience in the environmental and aquatic fields when asked if the NHMC it was sad to see the response

Guess the present administration we have in place leaves only a response to a problem than to prevent a response all together.

John and Pete and others on the commission thank you also. I don’t see a lot of city support or respect maybe Im wrong .

Thank you Tony for the times you welcomed me at your meetings

Any consolation it was Nancy who brought us this article with luck she may be the one day tell us more about Norwalk Mayor’s Water Quality Committee or the NMHC. Her city coverage is awesome.

We thank you Nancy for your work and giving us a voice.

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.