What Is Water Quality?
There’s more to water quality than meets the eye.
There are many factors that affect water quality in our rivers and streams. No single measure can be used to determine "good" water quality. The standard used to determine the quality of water depends on what we want to use it for, such as for fishing, swimming or drinking. To determine these standards we need to look at certain chemical, physical, and biological factors and determine at what levels they begin to negatively impact water quality. Some of these factors, also called pollutants or contaminants, are listed on the right. While a few of these may be due to nature's normal cycle, the vast majority of the pollutants found in our water come from us.
This is unfortunate - But it can be changed.
What About Water Quality for the Norwalk River?
Norwalk River watershed residents use the river primarily for recreation including fishing, boating, and swimming. Recreational activities can also include children and pets playing in the water or along the stream bank .
Fishing requires the river or stream to sustain fish and other aquatic life forms by providing a desirable healthy habitat. To achieve this, measures of dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature must fall within a specified range. Any measure above or below this acceptable range will cause stress on fish. The presence of pesticides, nutrients and other toxic substances can also negatively impact aquatic and other life forms that depend on the river.
In addition to the quality of the water, the condition of the riverbed and stream banks are also important. Improper use of fertilizers releases nutrients causing explosive and unsightly algae growth. Excessive silt and sand which are washed into the river during periods of heavy rainfall, typically come from roads, parking lots, driveways , and eroded river banks. Excessive leaf litter from yard waste decomposes increasing nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, and turn riverbeds into muck. Fish find these conditions highly undesirable and will leave for better conditions elsewhere.
Typical Pollutants & Factors Affecting Water Quality
People and pets can come in contact with the water during any of these recreational activities. Therefore, levels of certain types of bacteria and other toxic substances are a concern and should be measured to see if levels are acceptable for this type of use.
CT Water Quality Standards provide protection for people and their pets from water-born illnesses and for the protection and propagation of fish and other wildlife.