For the first time since the 1970s, water pollution is on the rise. It’s coming from your town, your neighbors, and maybe you, too.
Here are the facts… and what you can do.
Polluted stormwater runoff is the #1 threat to water quality, and it comes from thousands of little places. With every storm, rainwater picks up all sorts of contaminants from the ground – common products like:
- Oil, grease, metals and coolants from vehicles;
- Fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals from gardens, farms and homes;
- Bacteria from pet wastes and failing septic systems;
- Soaps from car or equipment washing;
- Soil from construction sites and other bare ground; and
- Accidental spills, leaky storage containers, and even common litter.
How big is the problem?
Nationwide, 55% of fresh water bodies are unfit for swimming at least part of the year.
In Connecticut, it’s 70%
The Climate Connection
As our climate changes, the Northeast is experiencing stronger and more frequent storms.1 Stronger storms pick up even more contaminants from the ground and flush them more forcefully into our waters. Read more about local climate impacts here.
Undeveloped vs. Developed land
Forested land produces 1/5 the amount of runoff compared to pavement and rooftops, and absorbs 100 times more rainwater. Yet all across New England, forests are declining and development is on the rise. Development pressure is increasing on all sides of our watershed – along the coast to the south, Waterbury to the east, and the Pittsfield region of Massachusetts (see inset map).