Summer 2011 will be remembered for Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and, while there was no damage to our area, the largest earthquake to strike the East Coast since 1944. The storm was devastating for many inland communities, and for coastal communities, it was another reminder of the need to plan for the potential of even greater threats. But despite these environmental shocks, the summer of 2011 should also be remembered for initiatives that are helping to restore Long Island Sound and for the many signs of progress, including the sightings of dolphins returning to the Sound.
Action Agenda Caps Summer SoundVision Tour
This Summer, LISS's Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) held a SoundVision tour to celebrate the completion of two new plans to help guide efforts to restore and protect the Sound. News conferences were held in harbors throughout the Sound highlighting the LISS Action Agenda and the CAC's SoundVision Action Plan
. At the ports media, local officials, and community residents were invited to learn about the plans and issues impacting the Sound and to visit one of two historic ships, the sloop SoundWaters or the sloop Quinnipiac.
The LISS Action Agenda contains 54 actions organized around four themes: Waters and Watersheds, Habitats and Wildlife, Communities and People, and Science and Management. Within these themes priority actions are identified to improve water quality, restore habitat, conserve the land, maintain biodiversity, and increase opportunities for human use and enjoyment of the Sound.
In addition to continuing progress in reducing nitrogen pollution and mitigating combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflows, the Action Agenda commits to research stormwater practices to control nitrogen and pilot innovative strategies to use shellfish and seaweed to mitigate nitrogen pollution. New targets are being set to restore 200 acres of coastal habitat and to reopen 80 miles of riverine migratory corridors to fish. And a number of actions target restoration of eelgrass, a critical habitat for shellfish and juvenile fish.
The Action Agenda builds upon and is consistent with the SoundVision plan, which was developed by the CAC with citizen input through a series of workshops and focus groups over the past two years.
NY Joins CT to Create Soundwide "No Discharge Zone"
On Sept. 8, the 760 square miles of Long Island Sound waters in New York were designated a "no discharge zone," which means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water. New York joins Connecticut, which received its designation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its stretch of the 1,300 square-mile Sound in 2007. The ban was announced on Sept. 6 by EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) after EPA reviewed NYSDEC’s proposal and determined that there are adequate facilities in New York for boats to pump out their sewage. Boaters must now dispose of their sewage at these specially-designated pump-out stations. Discharges of sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to
people’s health and impair marine life. For more information about No Discahrge Areas in New England, including Long Island Sound, visit EPA's New England region Web page.
Bioharvesting Starts Up in the Bronx, Bridgeport
Two pilot projects that use aquaculture methods to remove nutrients in Long Island Sound began this summer in the Bronx River and central Long Island Sound.
Traditional methods to reduce nutrients in the Sound focus on reducing land-based sources of nitrogen, such as upgrading sewage treatment plants. An additional method that is being explored by managers is called “nutrient bioextraction,” in which nutrients are removed from within the Sound by the cultivation and harvest of organisms such as shellfish and seaweed. As these organisms grow, they take up nutrients from the surrounding waters and incorporate them into their bodies. When harvested, the nutrients they contain are also removed from the Sound.
In August, a 20 by 20-foot raft was assembled and anchored in the waters off the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Ribbed mussel seeds (spat) are being attached to ropes that hang from the raft into the water where they can feed and grow, and from which they will be harvested next year. A native red seaweed, Gracilaria, are being suspended on lines attached to buoys that are part of the raft system. Seaweed has also been suspended on lines attached to buoys near Bridgeport.
The pilot projects will be completed in two years. A modeling and economic assessment of the potential use of shellfish bioextraction in LIS has begun as part of EPA’s Regional Ecosystem Services program. The mussel installation was coordinated by Carter Newell of Pemaquid Mussel Farms. Gary Wikfors, Eve Galimany and Julie Rose of NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory are leading a team to evaluate the raft’s environmental impact and bioextraction capacity of the mussels. Charles Yarish and Jang Kim of the University of Connecticut and George Kraemer of Purchase College are leading the seaweed project. Suzanne Bricker of NOAA Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment is leading the modeling and economic assessment project. Project partners include Rocking the Boat, the EPA Long Island Sound Office and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Funding partners
include the Sound Futures Fund and the Bronx River Watershed Initiative through the New York State Office of Attorney General.
LISS Releases 2009-2010 Biennial Report
Despite a tough economy in 2009 and 2010, the Long Island Sound Study and its partners were able to implement and complete dozens of projects that led to significant improvements to Long Island Sound and its tributaries. Protection & Progress, LISS’s 2009-2010 Biennial Report, highlight’s management efforts to improve water quality, restore habitats, monitor the environment and work with municipalities and the public to improve their local environment in order to improve the Sound.
During the two years of the report’s focus, LISS and its partners accelerated their efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution into the Sound and had its most successful year in restoring habitats since the LISS Habitat Restoration Initiative started in 1998. Through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, a program managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with LISS support, nearly $3.5 million in grants were awarded to groups that matched these funds to conduct 67 stewardship, restoration, watershed management, and education projects.The report also showed the impact of leveraging EPA funds for the LISS program with partner funds to benefit the Sound. From 2006-2010, for every dollar spent by the Study to implement the Sound’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, an additional $67.11 was spend by federal, state, local, or private partners.
In August, the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA), awarded Paul Stacey, a former resource manager with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), and former member of the LISS Management Committee, with the Paul Eastman Environmental Statesman Award—the organization’s highest honor. Stacey, who is now a research coordinator with the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Hampshire, was cited for his leadership role in several water quality programs and initiatives, including the development of Long Island Sound Study's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, the Nonpoint Source Runoff Program, the Long Island Sound Total Maximum Daily Load agreement, and Connecticut’s innovative nitrogen trading program. Stacey had a 25-year career with CT DEEP. He was director of
the agency's Planning and Standards, Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse when he left for New Hampshire in 2010.
"This is a high and deserving honor," said Mark Tedesco, director of EPA's Long Island Sound Office. "It is gratifying to see Paul receive the recognition that he deserves and to see the Long Island Sound story reach a wider audience."
Dolphins and Otters Seen in Sound and Tribs
In August, and for the second time in three years, dozens of dolphins were spotted in Long Island Sound, including Hempstead Harbor, Smithtown Bay, and Rocky Point in Long Island, and off City Island in the Bronx. Also in August, Newsday featured an article about reports in recent years of otters returning to Long Island waters. The resurgence of these animals are a good sign that higher levels of species are finding good water quality and an abundance of fish to prey on. The dolphin sightings can be viewed on YouTube
. The Newsday article is available at Newsday's Web archives for Newsday and Cablevision customers. According to the newspaper, evidence of river otters has been seen in places such as Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor, and tributaries of the Nissequogue River. The otters largely vanished from the region more than 150 years ago, first because of hunting, and then because of pollution and damage to waterways and marshes where they search for food.
Sediment Spews from Connecticut River
Nearly a week after Hurricane Irene drenched New England with rainfall in late August 2011, the Connecticut River was spewing muddy sediment into Long Island Sound and wrecking the region's farmland just before harvest. NASA's Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite acquired this true-color satellite image on Sept. 2. Visit NASA's earth observatory Web site to read an article about the impact of Hurricane Irene on the Connecticut River Valley.
Record "Striper" Caught off CT Coast
Long Island Sound might soon be known for holding the world record for the largest striped bass caught by an angler. In early August, angler Greg Myerson landed a large striper in off the waters of Westbrook, CT. The bass weighed in at 81.88 pounds, two pounds more than the previous record striped bass caught off Atlantic City in 1982. The catch must first be certified by the International Game Fish Association before Myerson is credited with the record.
Congratulations to Kierran Broatch, volunteer coordinator for Save the Sound, who was the first to interview and photograph Myerson after his catch for On the Water magazine. Read how he did it in his article for the magazine.
Local Groups Plan for a Better Sound
Throughout Long Island Sound, watershed groups assist local and state governments in protecting local harbors and tributaries of Long Island Sound. These groups develop plans that lead to projects to prevent water pollution, restore habitats, and engage local citizens to become stewards of their environment. In recent months several watershed groups have completed different phases of their watershed plans. In New York, the Friends of the Bay completed its Oyster Bay Watershed Action Plan
with financial support from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. In Connecticut, the Norwalk River Initiative, with support from the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) and HydroQual, completed an update to the 1988 Norwalk River Action Plan. Also in Connecticut, finals drafts of action plans have been developed in the Mianus, Saugatuck and Five Mile Rivers watershed communities by local groups with the assistance of SWRPA and AKRF consultants.
Volunteers Help Clean Up the Coast
Calling all volunteers—it's time to clean up our coast!
Save the Sound in Connecticut and the New York Chapter of the American Littoral Society are once again coordinating Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) in the Long Island Sound region. The cleanups started Sept. 17, and will take place in communities across the Sound over the next two months. There will be dozens of coastal cleanup events across Connecticut and New York on foot, by boats, and even underwater.
Last year Save the Sound and the Littoral Society brought together more than 4,800 volunteers, who removed nearly 130,000 pounds of trash from 135 miles of beach and riverfront. Because of the debris washed onto beaches by Hurricane Irene and other storms, our shorelines and waterways, and the living things that call them home, more than ever need the helping hands of volunteers.
To find a coastal cleanup near you in Connecticut , go to Save the Sound's events page, and in New York go to the ALSNYC Web site.
If you know of a stretch of shoreline that needs help and would like to organize a cleanup of your own in Connecticut, e-mail Kierran Broatch at Save the Sound at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date: 21st Annual Long Island Sound Citizens Summit
This year's Long Island Sound Citizens Summit will be held Oct. 28 at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, and will focus on the SoundVision Action Plan, a project of the Long Island Sound Study's Citizens Advisory Committee.
The four themes of SoundVision are:
Protecting Clean Water to Achieve a Healthy Sound.
Creating Safe and Thriving Places for All Sound Creatures.
Building Long Island Sound Communities that Work.
Investing in an Economically Vibrant Long Island Sound.
The Citizens Summit is organized by the Long Island Sound Study and Save the Sound with support from the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. Details and registration page are coming soon and will be available at www.LISoundVision.org.
National Estuaries Day, which is being held on Sept. 24, is an annual celebration of the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. National Estuaries Day is a great opportunity to learn more about these special places and how you can help to protect them. In our area, National Estuaries Day events are being held in Poquetanuck Cove and Mystic Aquarium in eastern Connecticut and Alley Pond in Douglaston, Queens. There is also a beach cleanup combined with estuary day events planned for New Haven. Go to LISS's Web site to find links with information about these events—and then go enjoy our estuary!