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Study: Elevated Levels Of E. Coli Found In Conn. Rivers

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A section of the Saugatuck River in Westport, Conn.

Fairfield County’s rivers and streams feed into Long Island Sound. And they’re full of bacteria like E. coli. That’s the finding of a study from the Westport, Connecticut-based nonprofit, Harbor Watch.

Harbor Watch studied thousands of samples from 20 rivers and streams throughout Fairfield County. They found most of them had what the state considers unacceptable amounts of bacteria – the kind of amounts that close beaches.

Sarah Crosby with Harbor Watch said one factor could be increased rainfall.

“We had a much wetter year, which can lead to bacteria being washed from elsewhere in the watershed into these rivers.”

She said you can blame different culprits for the bacteria, depending on where you are.

“In a more developed part of Fairfield County, failing infrastructure or poorly maintained sewer septic system connections.” Or in more rural areas, “You can also have high bacterial concentrations coming from wildlife and things like that.”

Crosby said this is the worst year for bacteria since 2015 and though most cities and towns in Connecticut are doing a good job curbing pollution and going above and beyond state requirements, “Overall, there’s a lot of work to be done to find and fix the sources of pollution that are contributing to these elevated levels.”

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.