DEEP: Beach Monitoring

State Beach Monitoring Program Information

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) conducts weekly bathing water sampling at 23 state-owned and managed swimming areas:

4 coastal State Parks - Rocky Neck, Hammonasset Beach, Silver Sands and Sherwood Island;

17 inland State Parks - Black Rock, Burr Pond, Chatfield Hollow, Day Pond, Gay City, Hopeville Pond, Indian Well, Kettletown, Lake Waramaug, Mashamoquet Brook, Mount Tom, Quaddick, Squantz Pond, Stratton Brook, Wadsworth Falls, Wharton Brook, Lake Gardner; and

2 State Forests – Green Falls Pond at Pachaug State Forest and Pattaconk Reservoir at Cockaponset State Forest.

Water testing at state swimming areas begins the week before Memorial Day weekend and continues through Labor Day weekend.  Water samples collected by DEEP staff are analyzed at a CT Department of Public Health (DPH) lab.

Samples are analyzed for indicator bacteria, which are not disease-causing pathogens, but are one of the tools used by public health and environmental protection officials to evaluate the potential contamination of waterbodies.

State Swimming Area Water Quality Report  This report lists the location and status of the 23 inland and coastal swimming areas managed by DEEP and is available during the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Beach Status is updated daily from Monday through Friday.  Changes in beach status occurring between Friday and Monday are updated on the Water Quality Information phone line below, but not on the website.

Visitors to the DEEP website main page can find the state swimming area information on the right side of the page under: “State Swimming Area Water Quality Report”.

Swimming Area Information Line for Up to Date Information
The DEEP State Parks Division maintains a toll free 24-hour State Parks Swimming Area Water Quality Status information line.  By dialing (866) CTPARKS or (866) 287-2757, the public and news media can check the status of Connecticut's State-owned swimming areas.   The Information Line provides up-to-date information through a recorded message.  In the event a swimming area is closed, the message may indicate alternative swimming locations.

DEEP is also using social media including Facebook and Twitter to provide updated information for selected facilities.

Indicator bacteria are used to predict the threat of waterborne illness by detecting potential contamination from fecal material of human or animal origin. However, due to inherent uncertainty involved with sampling and analytical determination of bacteria levels, excursions from established ambient criteria are investigated by means of a field survey of sanitary conditions or other appropriate means to determine sanitary quality (Water Quality Standards). Therefore actual beach closure is based upon professional judgement which considers the magnitude of the exceedance and the results of a sanitary survey of the watershed. These determinations are made jointly by the DPH and the DEEP.

Beach Monitoring and Closure Protocol (PDF): This document was written to standardize bathing beach monitoring and closure policies across a variety of agencies and municipalities. The document identifies indicator criteria and describes in detail the process for establishing a monitoring program, conducting sanitary surveys, and beach closure steps.  Additional sampling is conducted following closures due to indicator bacteria criteria exceedances.

For further information, contact the Connecticut DEEP at (860) 424-4100.

Additional detailed references:

Indicator Bacteria Monitoring at Public Bathing Beaches (QAPP) (PDF): This Quality Assurance Project Plan describes in detail the procedures used to assure the indicator bacteria data collected from public bathing areas is reliable, credible, and usable for management decisions.

EPA BEACH Program focuses on the following five areas to meet the program goals of improving public health and environmental protection programs for beach users and providing the public with information about the quality of their beach water: 

  1. Strengthening beach standards and testing;
  2. Providing faster laboratory test methods; 
  3. Predicting pollution;
  4. Investing in health and methods research; and
  5. Informing the public.