Historical Water Quality Issues

Water quality problems in the Hartford area of the Connecticut River date back to the late 1800s. In July 1914, the level of DO in the Connecticut River near Hartford (~4-6 mg/L) was 2 to 3 mg/L lower than levels during the late 1980s (7.4 to 7.9 mg/L in 1988) (CTDEP, 1982, 1988). Early in the history of European settlement along the river, the construction of dams for hydropower had significantly exacerbated water quality problems, due to stagnation and the creation of faunal barriers. By 1872, Atlantic salmon had been completely exterminated from the river system because of poor water quality as well as the construction of physical barriers that prohibited the migration of anadromous fish (Center for Environment and Man, 1975).

In 1955, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission classified the Connecticut River from Holyoke Dam in Massachusetts to Middletown, Connecticut, as a Class D waterway suitable for "transportation of sewage and industrial wastes without nuisance and for power, navigation, and certain industrial uses" (Kit-trell, 1963). Severe water pollution problems in this reach of the Connecticut River have resulted from two sources: industrial effluent and municipal sewage disposal.

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