Long Island Sound is as famous for its fish and shellfish as it is for boating, swimming, and scuba diving. The Sounds sheltered embayments are the most desirable areas for many recreational and commercial activities. Yet, it is on the shorelines of these embayments that developments are concentrated. Pathogen contamination, caused poor land use and flawed waste disposal practices, often impairs our ability to swim or harvest shellfish in many bays. In 1989, the dockside value of Long Island Sound’s commercial bivalve shellfishery – clams, oysters, and mussels (excluding bivalves harvested in relay and depuration programs) – was over $30 million. Because pathogen contamination closes beaches and restricts shellfish harvesting, it seriously affects the region, economically and socially.
Origins and Effects of Pathogens
Certain bacteria, viruses, and protozoa are known as pathogens. When people ingest these microorganisms or allow them to enter their bodies, they may incur illnesses and diseases such as gastroenteritis, cholera, typhoid fever, salmonella, or hepatitis A. Pathogens that concentrate in the fecal waste of infected humans and warm-blooded animals, find their way to Long Island Sound via both point and nonpoint routes (see Fact Sheets #3 and #7X Specific sources of pathogens include improperly and untreated sewage discharges from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), sewage treatment plant breakdowns, and pumping station bypasses; stormwater runoff; waterfowl and animal wastes; septic systems; inadequately treated sewage discharges from boats; and illegal connections to storm drain systems.
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