More than half of the nation's rivers and streams are in poor condition, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Things aren't as bad in Connecticut.
Fifty-five percent of the river and stream miles in the country have been vulnerable to flooding, erosion and pollution. And they are suffering from high nitrogen, mercury, and bacteria levels. The EPA found that 23 percent are in what it considers "fair" condition for aquatic life. In Connecticut, that number is much larger. "About 77 percent were good or healthy and around 23 percent were kind of in the poor category," said Chris Bellucci, an analyst with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection where information was collected to contribute to the National Rivers and Streams Assessment. One thing that does line up with the overall findings -- the unhealthy water is in heavily populated areas. "In the past we've had sewage treatment plants in those areas. Historically, we have a lot of industries in those areas. And we have a lot of impervious land cover that contributes pollutants to streams. In other words, it sort of disrupts the hydrologic cycle and causes a lot of runoff from parking lots and roof tops, and buildings and such." The Pequabuck in Bristol and the Naugatuck River in Waterbury fall into the poorer category. But Bellucci says both have improved in condition since clean up plans were put in place after The Clean Water Act.