Beach Closing Policy
Stratford, Connecticut--Summer has arrived, bringing sunshine, warmer temperatures and plenty of beachgoers to Stratford's shorelines. It is also a busy time for staff at the Stratford Health Department, who have already begun conducting their seasonal water sampling program and weekly inspections at Short Beach and Long Beach facilities.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Health Department staff collect water samples on Monday mornings and submit them to the Connecticut Department of Public Health for laboratory analysis. If elevated levels of bacteria are detected, an advisory is issued to warn beachgoers against entering the water. Swimming is prohibited until further testing is completed which indicates that bacteria levels have returned to acceptable levels. In addition, the Health Department introduced a policy in 1998 that automatically prohibits swimming for a minimum of 24 hours if rainfall exceeds one inch, and a minimum of 48 hours or more following rainfall of 2 inches or more. Rain gauge readings at the Water Pollution Control Facility are taken to determine levels of rainfall. For more severe rainstorms, it can take two days or longer before bacterial counts drop to an acceptable level. Many coastal towns have similar beach closure policies.
Tidal current change promotes rapid cleansing of waters following extreme rainfall or other conditions that can cause excessive bacterial contamination.
Elevated bacterial levels in bathing areas can cause health problems, including skin irritations, and gastrointestinal illnesses from ingesting contaminated water. While the public may still visit the shoreline and use the beach areas for recreation when an advisory is in effect, people should not enter the water. Signs will be prominently displayed at the entrance to the beaches and beachgoers should abide by them at all times. Local lifeguards will be enforcing swimming bans.
The public is advised to check with the Stratford Recreation Department at 385-4052 or the Stratford Health Department at 385-4090, Monday through Friday, to determine if a swimming advisory is in effect following a rainfall. On weekends and after hours, beachgoers can call the Recreation Department's answering machine at 385-4129 for a taped message about beach closures . Beach closures are also routinely publicized on the WICC radio station, local news stations, and on the Town of Stratford website. In addition, the Health Department notifies private beach associations of swimming advisories so that they may inform members of any risks.