The Madison Health Department has tested the water at Madison's town-owned beaches during the summer for years and has water test results back to 1994. For the last few years the testing has been paid for by the State of Connecticut under a grant from the EPA. Each Monday, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Madison Health Department collects water samples at Pent Road, East Wharf, West Wharf and the Surf Club (east and west ends). Samples from shoreline towns are taken by courier service to the state laboratory for bacteriological testing.
If test results show a high bacteria count, affected towns are notified on Tuesday for retesting on Wednesday. A second high bacteria count could result in temporary beach closure, although not necessarily. Bacteria counts in Madison have traditionally been very low on average. Experience shows that a large rain event that causes substantial runoff will elevate bacteria counts, but they will be low again following a full tide cycle. To date, Madison has never had to close beaches due to high bacteria counts.
Madison has some of the best beaches in the state and contains both town-owned and private beaches, serving primarily local residents, and Hammonasset State Park, serving tens of thousands of visitors from around the state. Maintaining the quality of our beaches serves more than the interests of beach users and those living near the shore but extends to the entire Town, enhancing property values and the quality of life in Madison. Protecting beach and water quality is the job of all of us in Madison.