New York and the Western Sound
CLEAN AND SAFE? OUR WATERS AND BEACHES AREN'T THERE YET.
We must stop pollution that closes our beaches. Bacterial pollution from raw sewage forces the closing of Long Island Sound beaches every summer. Such closings have risen dramatically over the past decade, especially in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties. In Westchester County alone, there were 140 beach closings in 2011 and 111 in 2012.
We must heal the low oxygen dead zone that plagues the western Sound each summer. During parts of August 2012, the oxygen in waters off Westchester and Nassau counties dropped to almost nothing. This state of oxygen depletion is called hypoxia. Without oxygen, the fish, lobster, crabs and other marine animals that form the Sound's web of life must leave immediately or die. Every summer, slower-moving creatures get caught, and the Sound's ecosystem suffers.
Save the Sound is advocating for a cleaner Long Island Sound, and will work to restore our beaches, rivers and the Sound itself for swimming, boating and fishing. Our goal is to help provide an environment where humans and marine wildlife can prosper year-round.
HOW WILL WE ACHIEVE OUR VISION OF A SAFE AND THRIVING SOUND?
Enforcing the Law
Our Western Long Island Sound Clean Water "Accountability with Teeth" Program operates out of our Westchester office and focuses on existing, strong clean water laws that support our vision of a healthy and vibrant Sound. The challenge is to make sure these laws are enforced, and that counties and others are held accountable for their actions—or their inaction. Federal law requires our sewer plants slash oxygen-robbing nitrogen pollution—an essential step in healing the low oxygen dead zone. The law also requires New York municipalities, towns and villages to fix sewer pipe leaks that contribute to sewage pollution and beach closings. Private business and homeowners may also need guidance and support to ensure their sewage lines are intact and connected properly.
Save the Sound legal staff and experts are tracking the progress of every one of the 17 sewage treatment plant systems in New York that impact the Sound's water quality.
One result of that tracking is our an appeal of a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Consent Order that attempts to relax nitrogen reduction limits required for the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District.
The GNWPCD failed to meet its 2004 and 2009 nitrogen reduction obligations required by law, and does not currently have the capacity to meet its 2014 deadline. Additionally, GNWPCD routinely violated its water pollution permit, exceeding not only its nitrogen limits but also limits for other contaminants. However, instead of forcing the plant to comply, NYSDEC entered into a consent order in May 2012 with GNWPCD, which allowed the District to continue illegally polluting the Sound.
STATUS: The case is pending in New York State Supreme Court.
In addition to combating nitrogen pollution, we are also working to slash bacteria pollution from stormwater runoff pollution and sewage overflows.
In a lawsuit filed by Save the Sound and other environmental organizations, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation must do more to clean up stormwater runoff across the state.
The court agreed with Save the Sound that the statewide "general permit" for municipal stormwater was not strong enough. Currently, stormwater runoff contributes to the LIS dead zone, beach closings, impaired fisheries and shellfish harvesting. The court ordered NYSDEC to fix several major flaws in the permit to ensure that all Clean Water Act requirements are met. The court required:
- NYSDEC to exercise stricter oversight over municipal stormwater permits;
- Include detailed compliance schedules to reduce runoff pollution; and
- Allow the public to review and comment on municipal plans before they are approved.
STATUS: The decision is being appealed to the New York Appellate Division by the NYSDEC where CFE/Save the Sound is defending the victory. Read the NY Court Decision
We will also work to save the Sound one backyard at a time by spreading the word about western Long Island Sound programs, highlighting local stories on our vibrant Green Cities, Blue Waters blog, and creating a summer youth/family outreach and education program.
Engaging our youth – This summer Save the Sound is offering exciting experiential education for youth ages 10+ through partnerships with beach/yacht clubs in Western Long Island Sound Topics include: the Sound estuary and watershed, water quality testing, Sound habitats and animals, and how you can Save the Sound!
Family Offerings – Join Save the Sound in one of two programs: 1) testing Long Island Sound's water on-site at select yacht clubs or community centers. Together you can determine if swimming and water recreation is safe by testing bacterial levels from stormwater outflows and measure oxygen levels for Sound life; and 2) coastal clean-up events.
Save the Sound presentations – Partner with Save the Sound by hosting a presentation at your club or community organization. Discover the Sound's biggest issues and join Save the Sound's to make the Sound safe and thriving again.
For information on any of these education programs, contact Cameron Okie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-574-7407.
Save the Sound also works to restore critical habitats that have been degraded over time. Save the Sound facilitates several types of habitat restoration projects, including marsh restoration, migratory fish passage, fish counting, and vegetation planting.
Sunken Meadow State Park Marsh Restoration, Smithtown, NY
This project is in the engineering and design phase.
Save the Sound will coordinate the replacement of an earthen barrier in the park with an open channel and pedestrian bridge. The project will restore tidal flow to over 132 acres of salt marsh.
Betty Allen Fishway, Huntington, NY
Save the Sound facilitated the rehabilitation of the spillway at the park and the construction of a new fish ladder and fishing platform, preserving the integrity of Betty Allen Pond and helping to increase the fish population by improving migratory access to spawning habitats.
Eelgrass Restoration Project, NY
In partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Save the Sound helped to restore 1.5 acres of eelgrass beds through eelgrass weaving and subsequent planting at nine sites in NY and CT. NY sites included Old Field Point, Duck Pond Point, Goldsmith’s Inlet, and St. Thomas Point.