By Nina Zipkin
The Westport Weston Health District is testing the waters of Westport’s Muddy Brook to try to determine the cause of high counts of E.coli bacteria.
Westport’s Muddy Brook runs from near the Fairfield line through the Greens Farms area and into Sherwood Mill Pond. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) File photo
Testing of the stream, which runs from near the Fairfield town line south through much of the Greens Farms area to Sherwood Mill Pond, began June 18, according to Chief Sanitarian Jeff Andrews.
“We’re trying to narrow down where the high counts are and isolate the contributing factors that could cause them,” he said.
“Drainage pipes, for example. There are several reasons why they could be there – pool backwash, sump pump discharge or illegal septic overflow.”
Investigation of Muddy Brook actually began last year when Westport’s Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center, took samples from Muddy Brook and found high counts of the bacteria. Earthplace contacted the Westport Weston Health District which decided to do its own testing.
The Health District has results from Earthplace’s investigation in addition to the early samples that it has taken.
But Andrews described the results they have thus far as “erratic,” with the samples showing both high and low counts of bacteria.
“We’re going to sample for at least another month,” he said.
Letters were sent out to the residents with homes surrounding Muddy Brook in early June to tell them that the Health District would be testing and that they might be contacted to perform a dye test.
Dye testing involves flushing dye down a toilet and into the septic system. If the dye appears in the brook, then the septic system is a contributing factor to the high counts of bacteria.
In addition to faulty septic systems, animals swimming in one localized area, stormdrain runoff or rotting material in the areas surrounding the brook could be to blame, according to the Health District official.
“If we can isolate the problem, then we will address the situation, but it is still early in the investigation,” Andrews said.
Harmful strains of E. coli bacteria can cause a very serious infection and be potentially life-threatening.