Mike Jastremski, Watershed Conservation Director
Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media
Mike Jastremski, water shed conservation director for HVA, plants a Viburnum bush at the new Still River Canoe Launch in New Milford. Photo: Trish Haldin
Courteny Morehouse explains the 3D model of protected land around the Housatonic river during New Milford’s inaugural Riverfest celebration on Saturday October 13, 2018 at Young’s Field.
Photo: Lisa Weir / For Hearst Connecticut Media
Peter Linderoth, water quality program manager for Save the Sound.Photo: Contributed Photo / The News-Times
Save the Sound Water Quality Program Manager Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media
Katrina Koerting May 2, 2020
When the coronavirus pandemic broke out, officials encouraged Connecticut residents to self isolate to limit exposure.
Environmental effects are already being seen, including less air pollution, but what does this mean for the state’s waters?
Peter Linderoth, Save the Sound’s water quality program manager, Michael Jastremski, Housatonic Valley Association’s watershed conservation director, and Courteny Morehouse, HVA’s conservation projects manager, offer som some insight on potential ways the pandemic is affecting the state’s
What’s the potential impact of pesticides and fertilizers as people possibly tend to their gardens and lawns more?
MJ: In general, people use a lot more fertilizers and pesticides on their lawns and gardens than they really need, and those chemicals tend to find their way into streams and rivers. Pesticides can be toxic to aquatic life, and the nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers can cause superblooms of algae in slower-moving waters that are both unpleasant to be near, and potentially toxic to humans and pets. Folks have probably heard about the “dead zones” in Long Island Sound— those are caused by excess nitrogen coming into the Sound from rivers like the Housatonic. The good news is that there are very simple things we can do as homeowners to reduce our pollution contribution. Plant a buffer of native plants around backyard streams and ponds — they do a great job of filtering water quality. pesticides and fertilizers out of runoff, and they attract all kinds of birds and butterflies.
Do you think boating will play any role in the water’s cleanliness as people look to social distance on the lakes and along the coast?
PL: People might have to try harder to find somewhere to properly empty their head (sewage), as marina and pump-out boat services might be more limited than usual. The other thing to watch for is litter. We’re seeing lots of masks and gloves strewn around streets, and people might be equally careless on the water or at beaches. That’s not only bad for the environment (imagine how those gloves look floating underwater — just like a jellyfish, same as a plastic bag, with the same implications for sea turtles and fish trying to eat them), but also bad for human health because you can have droplets still on them.
Do you think there will be a difference in the future of inland waters versus the shore?
PL: While some improvements are possible, it is important to remember that water quality as a whole can take some time to rebound from polluted states —we may not know for some time whether there are measurable gains.
CM: It’s important to remember that our inland waters all flow eventually to Long Island Sound, so the things that happen upstream will impact the shore — for better or for worse.