U.S., Connecticut, New York announce Long Island Sound protection plan
Published 8:15 pm, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Environmental officials on Tuesday said new efforts are being made to reduce the amount of sewage and storm water being dumped into Long Island Sound and improve habitats in the waterway that's shared by Connecticut and New York.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said that in addition to continued progress in reducing nitrogen pollution and sewer and sanitary sewer overflows, programs are being established to use shellfish and seaweed to reduce nitrogen pollution.
New targets are being set to restore 200 acres of coastal habitat and reopen 80 miles of migratory areas to fish, according to the announcement made at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich.
State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Republican from Greenwich, said the goals represent a "spirit of cooperation" between environmentalists and businesses such as marinas, shipyards and others that rely on the Sound to make money.
"I don't see it as a big compromise," he said. "I see it as an education play so private industry can say what their needs are ... so environmentalists can know business a lot better and vice versa."
Citing recent progress in Long Island Sound restoration, officials announced an "action agenda" with 54 steps to improve water quality and the shoreline.
Tuesday's event was also the last stop of a summer-long "schooner tour" of Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island by the environmental groups Save the Sound and the Long Island Sound Study's Citizens Advisory Committee. The Long Island Sound Study, sponsored by EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York, brings in businesses, environmental groups, agencies, community groups and universities to work together to protect the Sound.
The tour unveiled the Sound Vision Action Plan, the citizens advisory committee's plan to restore and protect the Sound. It made other stops in Bridgeport, New Haven, Old Saybrook and Mystic, along with Port Jefferson, N.Y., Mamaroneck, N.Y., and Hempstead Harbor, N.Y.
Rebecca Kaplan, a Save the Sound spokeswoman, said the action agenda is consistent with what Save the Sound and the citizens advisory committee are proposing.
Officials also said they will commit to making Long Island Sound a "no discharge zone" for vessel waste.
New York and federal environmental officials announced that, beginning Thursday, boaters will be banned from discharging sewage into an additional 760 square miles on the New York state portion of the Sound. The ban has been in force on the Connecticut side of the Sound since 2007.
The expanded zone includes New York harbors, bays and navigable tributaries of the sound and part of the East River in New York City, from the Hell Gate Bridge stretching east to Block Island.
"It's important that we are all cognizant of releasing storm water and preventing contaminated water into the sound," he said. "It is a valuable resource and we have to protect it."
Kral's marina has a pump-out station that allows boaters to discharge sewage from their boats. The town has pump-out stations at the Grass Island and Cos Cob marinas.
Kral said his station is located at his fuel dock, enabling boaters to easily dispose of their sewage while fueling.
"It's convenient and you see a lot of boaters taking advantage of it," he said.
Nancy Seligson, a Mamaroneck, N.Y., councilwoman and co-chairwoman of the Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee, said the new efforts address pollution, restoring habitat, research and other activities.
The sound is "pretty clean in a general sense," she said, but it's plagued by storm water run-off and sewage treatment plant overflows during storms.
About 4 million people live along 600 miles of Long Island Sound coastline in both states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.