Beach Water Protection
Madison has the best beaches in the state and contains both town owned and private shorefront beaches, serving primarily local residents, and Hammonasset State Park, serving tens of thousands of visitors from around the state. Water quality is generally very good with few of the closings that plague other beaches in the state. Maintaining the quality of our beaches serves more than the interests of beach users and those living near the shore but extends to the entire town, enhancing property values and the quality of life in Madison. Protecting beach and water quality is the job of all of us in Madison.
Residents are asked to take action to protect water and beach quality in the following ways:
- Conserve water both inside and outside the house.
- Maintain your septic system and repair it promptly if it fails. (Please see the Septic Systems and Private Wells sections.)
- Control animal waste so that it doesn't enter the town's storm water system or water bodies.
- Don't feed the wild geese. The population of Canada geese has become a nuisance and their feces have been implicated in the spread of parasites in surface water.
- Bring your household hazardous waste to the Hazwaste Collection Center in New Haven, or to our annual collection at Hammonasset State Park in October. (Please see the Hazardous Waste section).
- Use minimal lawn and garden chemicals and fertilizers. Using more chemicals than necessary is of no value to your lawn, is expensive, and contributes to groundwater pollution. Most lawns can only effectively use 2-3 fertilizer applications per year.
- Don't put leaves, grass clippings, dirt, or any other materials in the storm drains.
- Report chemical spills or septic system failures so that appropriate remedial and regulatory action can be taken to alleviate the problem.
- Control boating and marine waste.
- Direct rainwater run-off from roof gutters and driveways to gardens and lawns wherever possible.
- Stay off the sand dunes. Sand dunes serve as erosion protection in coastal areas. They are easily damaged and hard to re-establish.
Testing Beach Water
The Madison Health Department has tested the water at Madison's town-owned beaches during the summer for years and has water test results back to 1994. For the last few years the testing has been paid for by the State of Connecticut under a grant from the EPA. Each Monday, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Madison Health Department collects water samples at Pent Road, East Wharf, West Wharf and the Surf Club (east and west ends). Samples from shoreline towns are taken by courier service to the state laboratory for bacteriological testing.
If test results show a high bacteria count, affected towns are notified on Tuesday for retesting on Wednesday. A second high bacteria count could result in temporary beach closure, although not necessarily. Bacteria counts in Madison have traditionally been very low on average. Experience shows that a large rain event that causes substantial runoff will elevate bacteria counts, but they will be low again following a full tide cycle. To date, Madison has never had to close beaches due to high bacteria counts.
Madison has some of the best beaches in the state and contains both town-owned and private beaches, serving primarily local residents, and Hammonasset State Park, serving tens of thousands of visitors from around the state. Maintaining the quality of our beaches serves more than the interests of beach users and those living near the shore but extends to the entire Town, enhancing property values and the quality of life in Madison. Protecting beach and water quality is the job of all of us in Madison.