It’s the last weekend of summer and Alex Cinotti, Assistant Director for East Shore District Health Department is happy to announce that he has not had to close one public beach in the three towns the department serves during the season – Branford, North Branford and East Haven.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to go to Branford Point on a Saturday, on a nice summer day, and close them down,” laughed Cinotti, adding, “which, I am thankful for.”
Last July, was for several days due to heightened bacteria levels. Despite many residents’ insistence that the closures are linked to the town , which processes waste for Branford and parts of North Branford, Cinotti maintains now as he did last year, that water contamination is linked to increased rainfall.
“Our closures are usually associated with heavy rain,” he said, adding that this summer’s “drought” has keep waters relatively clean.
According to the National Weather Service, the local area has received about 21 to 24 inches of precipitation year to date with just 4 to 5 inches of accumulation in June and July each. August brought more rain, according to their data, adding up to about 12 to 15 inches.
Water contamination of Branford’s public beaches, Branford Point, and Clark Avenue Beach as well North Branford’s Cedar Lake and Linsley Lake and East Haven’s Town Beach are usually a result of non-point source contamination, said Cinotti. When heavy rains occur, runoff from catch basins, storm sewers, and yards sends contaminants into the water sources, said Cinotti, which can include animal feces among other bacteria.
Last year Cinotti explained that victims of the bacteria, should any have been ingested, could have gastro-intestinal disturbance with symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea but nothing that is life threatening.
ESDHD did close Sunrise Cove Beach, which is not technically public, to swimmers this summer for a short time. Cinotti said, though the state does not list Sunrise Cove or Lanphier's Cove as public beaches, many residents do swim there.