There’s some good news for people who swim in Long Island Sound.
A report released Friday by Save the Sound found dozens of beaches on both sides of the Sound consistently earned top grades for water quality.
On average, Long Island Sound beaches met safe-swimming criteria 93.3 percent between 2016-18.
The report, which examined 204 swimming beaches in Connecticut and New York, also gave grades to each beach.
In Connecticut, the Surf Club Beach is Madison was ranked No. 1, followed by beaches in New Haven, New London and Fairfield counties.
After Surf Club Beach, the other top 10 beaches in Connecticut were: Quigley Beach in Stamford, Eastern Point Beach in Groton, Esker Point Beach in Groton, Cove Island Beach in Stamford, McCook Point Beach in East Lyme, White Sands Beach in Old Lyme, Pleasure Beach in Waterford, East Wharf Beach in Madison and Pear Point Beach in Darien.
“There are a lot of good beaches on the Long Island Sound,” said Peter Linderoth, water quality program manager for Save the Sound.
At the top of New York beaches was Oakland Beach at Rye Town Park.
Linderoth said water quality is best measured from beach to beach instead of by region and has more to do with functional sewage lines and storm drainage systems.
“We’re asking (municipalities) to proactively take care of sewage lines,” he said. “It’s our recommendation to invest in sewer lines and to make sure they’re not cracked.”
Individually, Linderoth said people can contribute to the health of the Sound by installing water barrels or rerouting storm water to personal gardens. Additionally, he said, homeowners should be mindful that their sewage systems are up-to-date.
Linderoth said climate change means the Sound region should expect more frequent precipitation in the coming decades, which means days with unhealthy water may rise.
“For the three summers covered in the report, the overall failure rate of beach samples more than doubled in wet weather — jumping from 5.4 percent in dry weather to 11.1 percent following wet weather,” the report said.
“High rainfall impacts water quality at beaches in a number of ways, including by diverting untreated sewage directly into the Sound in locations which use combined stormwater and sewer pipes, or those locations with decaying and damaged pipes. With increased rainfall levels leading to added beach closure days, even in the sunny days following heavy rain, Save the Sound is urging communities to invest in improved sewer treatment and handling capacity, as well as to increase testing at impacted beaches.”
Those who might be most affected by unhealthy water would be young children, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems, Linderoth said. However, anyone in unhealthy water is at risk for illness. Symptoms might include headaches, nausea, pink eye, vomiting and tapeworm.
Most Connecticut beaches earned an A or B grade.
Beaches that had the lowest grades were Byram Beach in Greenwich (D-); Seaside Park in Bridgeport (D+); and Silver Sands State Park in Milford (D).
To read the full report and the grades for all Long Island Sound beaches in Connecticut and New York, click here.