The Long Island Sound
The Long Island Sound is a vital resource used by both humans and wildlife. The quality of its water is an issue that affects everyone and everything. Scientific studies and continuous monitoring provide evidence as to what actions need to be taken to improve and restore the water quality. In more ways than one, the United States government has devoted much of its time to ensure the revival and protection of the Long Island Sound.
There are many ways to help in the protection of the Long Island Sound. Various government agencies and organizations initiate projects beneficial to the Sound. The government donates grants and monies for funding for the Long Island Sound. There are also bills and legislation passed by the government, which provides laws protecting the sound.
The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) is a partnership devoted in the restoration and protection of the Sound. This partnership involves federal, state, interstate, and local agencies, universities, environmental groups, industry, and the public in a program to protect and restore the health of Long Island Sound. The Long Island Sound Study has seven issues deserving special attention. These issues are low oxygen conditions, otherwise called hypoxia, toxic contamination, pathogen contamination, floatable debris, the impact of these water quality problems and habitat degradation and loss on the health of living resources, public involvement and education, and land use.
The LISS is undergoing studies that in hopes will reduce the extent of hypoxia. In order to restore the health of Long Island Sound additional nitrogen reduction is needed. Two major research efforts have provided much of the information on how low oxygen conditions affect living resources in the Sound. The EPA’s (Environmental Protections Agencies) Office of Research and Development conducted a study which was the first major research effort.
The study used a variety of species of fish, crab, shrimp, lobster, and other crustaceans known to live on the bottom waters of the Long Island Sound were exposed to low levels of oxygen in the laboratory. The effect of different concentration of oxygen on growth and survival was measured.
The second study which provided information on the effects of low oxygen conditions in the Sound was conducted by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP). The CTDEP collected bottom- dwelling fish and invertebrates and compared the quantity of organisms and number of species with the levels of oxygen in the water. Both of these studies confirmed that severe effects occurred whenever levels of oxygen fell below 2.0 mg/l. Large reductions in the numbers and types of aquatic life present were noted. The lab experiments recorded reductions in both growth and increase in death.
The Long Island Sound Study is receiving funding for the wastewater treatment facility improvements for the Sound. The main source of funding comes from the State Revolving Fund Programs. The Environmental Protections Agency, through the federal Clean Water Act, provides financing to support State Revolving Fund Loan Programs. Connecticut uses the capitalization grant from the EPA to leverage with state bond funds to provide grants and low interest loans.
New York, Connecticut, and EPA along with the federal Clean Water Act are ensuring enforcement to see a healthier Sound. The provisions of the federal Clean Water Act provide a vehicle for ensuring that nitrogen reduction targets are legally enforceable. A section of the Act (303(d)) requires the identification of a Total Maximum Daily Load for pollutants that will result in the accomplishment of water quality standards. Once a Total Maximum Daily Load has been established, the act calls for reductions to be allocated to sources so that the load target is met.
New York, Connecticut, and EPA will use their authorities to provide an enforceable basis for achieving the nitrogen reduction targets. The EPA has developed a regional marine oxygen criterion that provides a more scientifically valid basis for the development of oxygen standards. The LISS will continue to assess what other kinds of actions will be needed to bring the Sound into full observance with water quality standards. The Long Island Sound Study is not the only organization that is concerned with the health of the Sound.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Regional Offices in New York and Boston and its Long Island Sound Office has provided support in the restoration of the Long Island Sound. The EPA has provided funding to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and New York Department of Environmental Conservation in assistance of the Long Island Sound Study’s Habitat Restoration Initiative.
The EPA has agreed to support completion of the Habitat Restoration Strategy in the following six ways. The EPA LIS Office will continue to coordinate the effort, including tracking and reporting on programs toward commitments. The EPA LIS Office has also agreed to support continued public involvement and educational activities on habitat restoration, including the development of fact sheets, pamphlets, and information on its World Wide Web homepage. The EPA will encourage the application of eligible habitat restoration projects for funding under various programs. An example of this is the CWA Section 319 nonpoint source control program. The EPA will advocate habitat restoration in watershed protection activities around the Sound. The EPA has agreed to provide technical support and promote technology transfer of the program on a nation wide scale. Last but not least, the EPA will encourage the application of eligible habitat restoration projects for funding through Supplemental Environmental Projects.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Services (Service) will also provide support for the restoration of coastal habitats associated with the Long Island Sound. The Service will also attempt to match projects or sets of projects with appropriate Service and other related competitive grants programs and work with partners to apply for these grants. These programs and partners include North American Wetland Conservation Act grants, National Coastal Wetland grants, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Services (Service) has its own priority habitats and areas. These include nesting and foraging habitats for colonial waterbirds. These waterbirds especially: the long- legged waders and roseate tern. The Service puts an aim on habitats that are on and adjacent to National Wildlife Refugees, habitats that support federally endangered and threatened species, tidal wetland habitats in the Lower Connecticut River, beach strand habitats, and finally sandplain grasslands.
Save the Sound, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and appreciation of Long Island Sound and its watershed through education, research, and advocacy. Save the Sound was founded in 1972 and has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and Glen Cove, New York. Save the Sound, Inc. commits to the Long Island Sound in many ways.
The Save the Sound, Inc. will serve as an advocate for the Long Island Sound as a member of Restore America’s Estuaries, press for appropriate legislation such as the Chafee Estuary Restoration Bill. Save the Sound will also meet with elected officials in DC, Hartford, Albany, and local governments. Save the Sound is committed to tracking and monitoring legislation. They also agree to encourage adequate funds for restoration and pursue new funding sources. Last but not least for advocacy, the Save the Sound, Inc. will also streamline the permit process for restoration projects.
Save the Sound, Inc. is committed to education and outreach. They will strive to educate any age audience from elementary, middle, and high school faculty and students, municipal/ elected officials, adult general public, to landowners. Save the Sound, Inc. is responsible for organizing public speaking engagements, conducting technical assistance workshops for municipalities and community groups, classroom visits and field trips, and for media outreach such as radio, television, and print.
Save the Sound, Inc. is dedicated to habitat restoration. At the grassroots level, Save the Sound, Inc. has coordinated and assisted habitat restoration projects in Connecticut and New York. It has also assisted Long Island Sound Organizations by building partnerships, locating funds, and providing or locating technical assistance for restoration projects. Save the Sound, Inc. has also published and distributed the Long Island Sound Conservation Blueprint- Building the Case for Habitat Restoration In and Around the Sound (a citizen’s guide for habitat restoration).
Save the Sound, Inc. has also devoted itself to research in efforts to save the Long Island Sound from destruction. It has continued to assist non- governmental agencies of both states in developing water quality monitoring programs that operate under US EPS Quality Assurance Project Plans. Save the Sound, Inc. has continued to participate in the network of Long Island Sound agencies and organizations that monitor water quality and has continued to provide water quality data to federal and state agencies.
The USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a state- based federal conservation agency that works primarily on private and non- federal public lands to conserve and sustain natural resources. NRCS staff works with individuals, organizations and governmental agencies to deliver a wide range of technical services that reduce impacts to natural systems from agricultural, urban, and suburban landscapes. NRCS recognizes Long Island Sound as a priority for protection. While NRCS traditionally works on land in watersheds that outlet into the coastal area, it can assist with restoration projects in coves and embayments. The agency will continue working with landowners to enhance the quality of the natural resources within the Long Island Sound Ecosystem.
The New York Sea Grant Extension program works to provide the latest scientific information on habitat restoration from the National Sea Grant College Program. They promise to provide this information to groups and organizations conducting restoration projects and to provide technical assistance to groups performing habitat restoration projects. This is especially in the areas of coastal processes and dune habitats, fisheries restoration, and use of native plants. Sea Grant will sponsor habitat restoration workshops, and promote restoration through its newsletters.
The Connecticut Sea Grant College Program is a partnership between the federal government (NOAA) and the University of Connecticut, will continue to support habitat restoration effects as it has done in the past by following three main provisions. The CTSG has agreed to solicit proposals for relevant research, conduct workshops and other outreach activities, and to provide educational materials through its Communications and Educations offices.
CTSG Extension staff will continue to work with municipal officials, the state DEP, nonprofit organizations such as Save the Sound, and the Sea Grant network to assist with restoration projects, hold workshops, and assist in technology transfer to user groups. Long Island Sound ecosystem health, water quality, aquatic nuisance species, and fisheries are specific areas of expertise which the Extension educators can provide.
The City of New York/ Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Group (NRG) was established in 1984 and is made up of scientists, restoration ecologists, and GIS mapping specialists. NRG develops and implements management programs for protection and restoration of the City’s natural resources. More than $70 million is assigned for restoration of salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, riparian forests, and grasslands within the City’s watersheds.
Parks, through its Natural Resources Group, will continue to support the Long Island Sound Study Habitat Restoration Initiative in implementing habitat restoration priorities, non- point source pollution reduction through habitat enhancements, and protection and management of the Sound’s most important natural resources. In addition, Parks will continue to seek support through community education, and government and private grants to supplement parkland attainment, research, monitoring, and restoration goals established by LISS.
There is more to protecting the Long Island Sound than what organizations and committees can accomplish. The government can take a more direct action in the protection of the Sound. Legislation in response to the rapid deterioration of the Sound has been passed in hopes of saving its future.
A bill was introduced to Congress July of 1999 to “amend the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 to clarify the limitation on the dumping of dredged material in Long Island Sound.” Mr. Moynihan introduced this bill for himself and Mr. Schumer. This bill’s name became the “Long Island Sound Protection Act.” This bill requires all large dredging projects in the Sound to meet the terms with sediment testing provisions of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, commonly known as the Ocean Dumping Act.
Under the Ocean Dumping Act, any Long Island Sound dredging project that disposes of more than 25,000 tons of dredged material must “undergo toxicity and bioaccumulation tests” before it is safe to dump. Smaller nonfederal projects need to only meet the terms with the Clean Water Act, which does not require testing. Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun an unfortunate practice of avoiding the more rigorous requirements of the Ocean Dumping Act by individually permitting smaller projects that are clearly a part of larger dredging operations. Individually permitted, these projects need only comply with the Clean Water Act, even though they are dumped together in the Long Island Sound and have the same effect as one large project would to the ecosystem. The Long Island Sound Protection Act ends “stacking permits” and makes sure that at least one environmentally acceptable disposal site is designated by the Environmental Protection Agency within a two-year period.
Another bill was introduced to Congress dealing with the Long Island Sound. This bill was passed on May 2 of 2000 and is entitled the “Long Island Sound Preservation and Protection Act.” The purpose of this bill is to amend to title I of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act). There is a need to clarify environmental criteria governing the disposal of dredged material in the Long Island Sound.
The purpose of this amendment is to require that the transportation if dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into Long Island Sound from the listed categories of projects receive a permit under section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. This is in addition to the permit required under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Sites in Long Island Sound that have been used in the past for dredged material disposal may continue to be used in the future. This is only if they are either chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency, or selected by the Corps of Engineers, prior to such use.
An act to amend Section 119 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reauthorize the program for Long Island Sound and for other purposes was passed by Congress on May 8, 2000. This act is entitled as the “Long Island Sound Restoration Act” and is responsible for the conservation and management of the Sound. The Long Island Sound Restoration Act was passed as part of S. 835, the Estuary Habitat and Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act of 2000. It provides a $200 million authorization over five years for clean up and restoration of the Sound.
The Long Island Sound has contributed billions of dollars to the region’s economy. It is contributing even more today through water-dependent activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, boating, and tourism. The Long Island Sound is a perfect example of nature’s beauty that is loved, used, and treasured by many people and wildlife. Many governmental efforts to restore and protect the Long Island Sound are in effect and the improvements are noticeable.
In my opinion the Long Island Sound is a very important and beautiful resource. The Sound is responsible for billions of dollars of the regions economy. The government is right in its decision to do anything within reason to help the revival and preservation of the Sound. I am an environmentalist and am very pro- nature and wildlife. I feel that if we as humans are destroying and polluting the Sound, it is our responsibility to join in the effort to restore it for generations of people and wildlife to come.
DeVilleneuve, Robert, and Frank Herec. Long Island Sound Study: Summary of the
Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. New York: The New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Publications, 1994.
Long Island Sound Study Partnership. Long Island Sound Study: Phase III Actions for
Hypoxia Management. New York: The New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation Bureau of Publications, 1998.
United States. Congress. House. Long Island Sound Preservation and Protection Act.
Washington: May 2, 2000.
United States. Congress. House. Long Island Sound Protection Act. Washington:
July 13, 1999.
United States. Congress. House. Long Island Sound Restoration Act. Washington:
May 8, 2000.