Stonington Borough will pay $8,000 to remove rotting seaweed from Ash Street that has been making for the past few weeks.
The Stonington Borough Board of Warden and Burgesses voted to remove the seaweed after hearing complaints from residents and listening to an evaluation of the problem presented by Clean Up Sound & Harbors (CUSH) and a UConn Marine Sciences professor.
Over the past few weeks residents in Stonington Borough, Masons Island and Lords Point have complained of the rotting seaweed and told Warden Paul Burgess and First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr., that the smell has caused fatigue, sinus infections and headaches.
Certain types of seaweed can release hydrogen sulfide gas when decomposing. UConn Marine Sciences Profess Jamie Vaudrey said the type of seaweed washing up on the beach near Ash Street in Stonington Borough hasn’t been determined yet, but that high levels of nitrogen in the water, mixed with a mild winter caused what she described as bad algae to build up and release hydrogen sulfide.
“It all comes back to the human effect on the water,” Vaudrey said, adding that the high levels of nitrogen in coastal waters off Connecticut and Rhode Island are coming from rain, sewage, and fertilizers.
It isn’t a new problem for Stonington Borough. Last year the borough also paid to have the seaweed removed. The Board of Warden and Burgesses wants to form a committee that will work with the neighbors along the Ash Street beach to monitor and maintain the problem following the removal of the seaweed this year.
Burgess said that the beach on Ash Street is not a privately owned beach, but does have five abutting property owners one of which is Stonington Borough.
Vaudrey said one of the reasons the seaweed builds up on that particular beach is because the slope of the beach goes inward.
“Removal is the best option on a regular basis,” Vaudrey said.
The Board of Warden and Burgesses received two estimates for the seaweed removal and the $8,000 one was the lowest. Burgess said it was similar to how much the borough paid for seaweed removal in 2011.
Several of the other options discussed included changing the slope of the beach using sand and also netting, but those options would have cost more and according to Vaudrey may not have provided the desired outcome.