“The water quality of the Quinnipiac River and its major tributaries is degraded due to elevated levels of bacteria and other pollutants resulting from wastewater treatment plants, industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources such as stormwater runoff from developed areas and impervious
-Quinnipiac River Watershed Based Plan, December 2013.
Point Source pollution
Point source pollution can be traced directly back to a specific origin. Typical sources are the discharge pipes from factories and municipal sewage treatment facilities. Clean water laws and new treatment technology have significantly improved the Quinnipiac River since the days when it was treated as the region’s sewer.
Nevertheless, allowable amounts of certain pollutants continue to flow directly into the Quinnipiac River, adding to the historical pollutants that have accumulated in the sediments and soils.
In addition, new classes of chemicals are not removed by current wastewater treatment methods and impacting aquatic life in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand.
Nonpoint source pollution
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is perhaps an even greater problem facing the river and implicates everyone. It is caused by water running diffusely across a field, yard, sidewalk, street, patio or parking lot - or simply seeping through the ground.
This runoff carries pollutants into the river, including:
- Fertilizers from lawns, sports fields, and agriculture
- Road salt
- Animal droppings
- Car fluids
- Dissolved metals
Developed or disturbed land - commerical or residential - exaserbates the problem by reducing vegetation and creating impervious surfaces that increases the flow of stormwater runoff carrying pollutants.
Pollution harms the wildlife as well as the recreational enjoyment of the river. The Connecticut Dept. of Public Health and the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection have published an advisory for fish caught within the Quinnipiac River, above the Quinnipiac Gorge to Hanover Pond, and within the Eightmile River. These fish are assumed to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
According to the advisory, no one should eat any fish caught above the Quinnipiac Gorge or from the Eightmile River, and only one meal per month should be consumed of fish caught between the Quinnipiac Gorge/Hanover Pond.