Friday, February 19, 2010

Little Growler

One of the last boats Norman Bloom and I visited that Friday is also one of the newer boats in the fleet. Little Growler is a fiberglass dredger built in the late 1980's. While somewhat smaller in size, the operation that takes place aboard her is more or less the same. She was working an area north of the other boats, and was much closer to the  Connecticut shoreline.
"That area over there used to only have a few houses." Norm said as he motioned to the stretch of shoreline that extends from East Norwalk to Westport. He then went on to describe the slippery slope that follows this development. There is runoff from the roads; expensive lawns loaded with fertilizers; and soon there is a dock and a boat outside each home. "That was all 2-3 feet of water in there at one time."He explained.
I knew the area he was describing well. My summer job in high school was at Rex Marine in South Norwalk. Several times I had worked on customers' boats docked in the back yards along this stretch that Norm had pointed to. I remember thinking how nice the homes were, never once realizing that there could be a negative impact from them. I also thought back to something I had read in the book, This Fine Piece Of Water.  Development is mostly decided upon at the local level. Each proposal, in isolation, produces a "small but acceptable burden of pollution". When combined however, the destruction is large.
Norm then went on to describe a group called Harbor Watch, who test and moniter the water quality around Norwalk Harbor. "They are always testing." He told me. There are also plans to relocate the groups' laboratory alongside his office. 
Oysters feed by filtering suspended particles in the water, and the quality of water is essential to their existence. While harbors such as Norwalk may be cleaner than they were 30 years ago, the threats from sewage, chemicals, destruction of marshes, and development remain constant. No clean water, no oyster industry.
(More To Follow)

Hartford Courant: Saving The Oyster
Soundbounder: Fruits Of Winter (part one)
Soundbounder: I Love It Out Here... (part two)
Soundbounder: Mary Colman (part three)
Soundbounder: Lifting The Dredge (part four)

references: This Fine Piece Of Water, by Tom Andersen; Yale University Press; pages 172-73


Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, thanks for the reference to the Tom Anderson book.
Seeing the Sound through eyes and camera lens is awesome. Hearing through Norm Bloom's voice adds even more dimension. Thank you!

Erin | Bygone Living said...

It's really such a shame, all this water pollution and over-development on Long Island. And my pessimism believes it'll only get worse.

Unknown said...

Norm has captured the essence and of course there is more. The over development of the shoreline will be a serious issue. Fertilizer which gives the wrong shape and size of nutrients will encourage the wrong stuff. Cleaning up all nutrients (read sewage plant out falls that are cleared of pathogens and nutrients) will continue to starve the sound.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

We're trying to prevent that from happening to the shoreline here on the Vineyard, but it's hard when people want their water view...

Jeannette StG said...

Thanks for bringing this to the table, so to speak...I think one thing we can learn from the Native Americans (as well as more primitive societies) is respect for the land.

Erica Houskeeper said...

I wonder how well aware homeowners are of the negative impact. I imagine that many of them have put blinders on.

will said...

i like the pic, the local guide, and the book ref. can't wait for more to come.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Larry said...

As I was reading your blog tonight a thought came over me.I miss my boat(had to sell it)and I miss being out on the sound.Hopefully I can rectify both problems soon. The pollution problem is discouraging.The Connecticut River is cleaner than it was 40 years ago so there is still hope.

Unknown said...

The Sound is cleaner too. At one time every town just dumped their waste in the harbors.