The Long Island Sound has made great strides in recent years, and Long Island Sound Week is an opportunity both to evaluate our progress and reaffirm our commitment to preserving it for future generations.
Long Island Sound has been designated an Estuary of National Significance for its value as a habitat for fish, shellfish, and seabirds. It is also a powerful economic engine that contributes $9.5 billion annually to our regional economy.
Fighting for the federal resources we deserve to protect the Sound is a top priority for me in Congress. I am the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Long Island Sound Improvement Act Amendments, which will improve and restore water quality in the Sound by providing new funding and regulatory tools for states and municipalities to protect waters throughout the Sound’s watershed. In the previous Congress, the House passed my bill called the Clean Estuaries Act to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, but the Senate did not act on it before the session adjourned.
One of the greatest threats to the Sound is contamination from untreated sewage. I joined a coalition of environmental leaders in successfully advocating for all areas of Long Island Sound to be designated a “No Discharge Zone” to prevent boats from releasing harmful waste.
I am also the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, which addresses the nation’s substantial needs for waste water infrastructure by investing $13.8 billion over five years in infrastructure upgrades and establishing a clean water trust fund to provide long-term financing. Passage of my legislation will help give our state and local governments the resources they need to improve our clean water infrastructure and protect the Sound in the long term.
We can also improve the Sound’s water quality and suitability as a habitat for fish and shellfish by removing derelict fishing gear from the sea floor. A grant program I strongly support that leverages federal and private funds is currently employing up to 45 local lobstermen to identify and remove old lobster pots and other debris to reclaim more than 40,000 acres of the Sound’s sea floor.
I’ll keep working hard for the Sound in Washington, but I urge you to do your part to protect this natural treasure by volunteering at a beach cleanup or a habitat restoration project, reduce your use of fertilizers and toxic pesticides, and properly dispose of trash (including dog waste) to keep it out of our waterways. Together we can protect and enhance this magnificent natural treasure for our children and grandchildren, and I thank Save the Sound for their leadership.
Congressman Tim Bishop represents New York’s First Congressional District. He is the ranking minority member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is also a member of the Long Island Sound Caucus, the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.