Comey Backs local Citizen Science Project at Johnson's Beach

February 1, 2019

I am excited to announce and support a local project seeking to improve the quality of the water at Johnson’s Beach located in the Short Beach neighborhood. This project has been launched under the direction of the East Shore District Health Department (ESDHD) with the support of the Town of Branford, The Civic Association of Short Beach, and Yale University’s School of Public Health.

This Citizen Science Project, the first ever in the state to utilize Microbial Source Tracking with DNA markers, is expected to assess the water quality, which will include mapping of current direct and indirect sources flowing from the neighborhood within the Farm River Watershed. The goal is to address the spikes of bacterial contamination that has occurred after rain events and returned during weekly testing and find community solutions to improve water quality.

I am encouraged and excited about what we can do together to uncover the reasons behind high bacteria levels. Bringing the Short Beach residents into the process will help us determine long term solutions to making this area of Long Island Sound cleaner for future generations. Johnson’s Beach (A.K.A. Clark Avenue Beach) is really the epi-center of our neighborhood with families enjoying a variety of summer activities from swimming, boating and fishing to programs such as Yale Sailing and Short Beach Days. The health and wellbeing of our neighbors and residents is a top priority and we must do everything we can to ensure our water is clean and safe to minimize future beach closings.

The project, which is projected to submit their results and recommendations late spring/summer, is expected to focus on the following:

  • Data for the Clark Avenue Beach, update the 2017 student report by examining the relationship between weather-related and other variables and level of bacterial contamination at Clark Beach.
  • Examining the relationship between weather-related and other variables and level of bacterial contamination in shellfish beds near Clark Avenue Beach.
  • Constructing a GIS map of the Short Beach neighborhood sewage system.
  • Conducting a hand-on sanitary survey and field water quality sampling in the Short Beach neighborhood in different weather conditions.

ESDHD is expected to work in collaboration with the Clark Avenue neighborhood and the Short Beach Civic Association during the duration of this project and will engage volunteer community residents in the decision-making process for establishing best practices and improvements. This project will also benefit from assistance from the ESDHD and the Town of Branford to make any needed changes to residential public services.

Branford Town Engineer John Hoefferie stated, “This collaboration falls perfectly in step with the Town’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, which encourages towns in the permit program to identify impaired waterbodies, research the source of pollutants, and mitigate the effects certain pollutants have on our waterways. The Town and the Engineering Department are happy to be a partner in this effort to help the team research and develop solutions to improve water quality in this area of town.”

Michael Pascucilla, Director of Health for the East Shore District Health Department expressed his excitement to work in collaboration with our Town Partners, Yale University and the Short Beach community. He said, “This project is a true partnership, with full transparency to empower the residents to be involved in improving the water quality of their neighborhood. I especially want to thank our Yale Student Beach Team for agreeing to assist our local health department with this environmental water quality research study”.

I urge our neighbors to engage in this project by volunteering and cooperating in any way possible with those who will be surveying and working in our community. I look forward to learning more about the results of the study findings.

To find out more about the project and learn how to support the efforts, Rep. Comey is asking people to contact Peggy Carpenter at 203-376-1720 or via email at pegregcarp@yahoo.com.

Press Release: short beach project