It rises in west central Connecticut west of the city of New Britain. It flows roughly southward, west of the city of Meriden and flows into New Haven Harbor, an inlet of Long Island Sound, east of the city of New Haven.
It has a total length of 38 miles (61 km) and a drainage area of approximately 165 square miles (427 kmē). The tidal variation extends approximately 14 miles (23 km) upriver from its mouth.
The name comes an Algonguin phrase for "long water land", and the name given to the river and the area around its mouth.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the river suffered from severe pollution problems because of the presence of heavy industry and population centers in its watershed. The Quinnipiac was the subject of the first ever pollution control meausure in the state of Connecticut. In 1886, the state general assembly passed a measure prohibiting the City of Meriden from discharging raw sewage into the river. In 1891, the act resulted in the building of state's first sewage treatment plant.
Nevertheless, by 1914, the State Board of Health reported that the major fish life had largely disappeared from its mouth. The pollution has been somewhat abated by the passage of the Connecticut Clean Water Act of 1967, and by the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, which provided the legal authority to take measures to clean up the river's watershed. The measures included the construction of advanced waste management facilities for sewage and industrial waste. Levels of copper in the river have decreased 70% since the 1980s and are now comparable to other reference streams in Connecticut. Combined sewer overflows from the City of New Haven are still regarded as a major problem for the estuary.
Connecticut Department of Environment Protection (http://dep.state.ct.us/wtr/watershed/quinnriv.htm): Quinnipiac River
Quinnipiac River Historic District (http://www.nhpt.org/Historic_District_Pages/quinnipiacrvr.htm), New Haven.
But so great was the enthusiasm excited by the report which the soldiers brought of Quinnipiac, and so strong the confidence felt in the leaders of the expedition, that when the company left Boston in the spring of 1638 its number was considerably increased by accessions from Massachusetts.
On the west side of this plain were broad salt meadows, bordering the West River on either bank, and extending inland almost to the Red Hill which the planters called the West Rock.
Michael Wigglesworth,1 who came to Quinnipiac with his parents in October, 1638, when he was about seven years old, describes the cellar in which the family spent the first winter, as covered with earth on the roof.
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