Honeypotbrook Recovers in Cheshire Park
Quinnipiac River Watershed Association stream monitoring data shows that water quality in Honeypot Brook in Cheshire recovers dramatically after flowing through Cheshire Park. Along this two-third mile long, forested stretch, cool groundwater seeps slowly into the Brook from the adjacent wooded, sandy hills. Natural biological and physical processes use up excess nutrients, and break down pollutants. Although we were initially alarmed by the planned earth removal behind the pavilion in Cheshire Park, this operation will fortunately not take place near Honeypot Brook. However, earth excavation and logging activities could be be impairing water quality further downstream.
The QRWA Stream Team compared the communities of stream-bottom invertebrates (food for fish) at sampling stations, upstream and downstream of the park. We also checked water quality, using portable meters in early August, when conditions are at their worst. Volunteers included 5 Cheshire residents: Dee Crandall, Eric Nelson, MaryAnn Alberino, Donna Mitchell, and Diance Kearney. At Cedar Lane, the upstream station, we found only 11 families of invertebrates, mostly pollution-tolerant types. This station is in a dense older residential neighborhood, where many lawns border the stream. Parking lot runoff from Maplecroft Plaza and Rt. 10 reaches the Brook via storm drain. At the Creamery Road Station after the Brook passed through flowing through wooded Cheshire Park, almost twice as many families of bugs were present ( 21) , and the pollution tolerance (Hilsenhof) index was 3.5, indicating excellent water quality! Temperature dropped six degrees F, from 69 degrees to 63 degrees. Dissolved Oxygen content improved as well.
At our next station, at Blacks Road, about a mile downstream, water quality indicators declined somewhat, though they were still better than at Cedar Lane. We noted sandbars and banks undercut as much as 18 inches; and bug diversity had dropped to 16 invertebrate families. Between Cheshire Park and Backs Road most homes and businesses are set back more than 100 feet back. However, recently installed storm sewers now empty street runoff into the brook. There are also several sand and gravel excavation operations in the stream corridor.
Our sandy, wooded hills are an economically valuable natural resource. Trees are harvested as lumber, and sand and gravel deposits left by the glacier melt waters are used for winter road sanding and as construction material. But we should also value their role in sustaining and restoring our aquifers and streams. Lower Honeypot Brook is one of the healthiest streams in the Quinnipiac watershed, a beautiful stream with abundant native Brook Trout, black-nose and long-nose dace and a variety of stream bottom creatures for fish to feed on a resource well worth protecting.
By Sigrun Gadwa, M.S., QRWA Staff Scientist
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