CT/NY agree to Sound restoration
Nice to see the two states working together.
"Connecticut, New York, sign deal to restore Long Island Sound
December 5, 2002
NORWALK, Conn. -- Officials from Connecticut, New York and the U.S. government agreed Wednesday to work together over the next 12 years to restore the environmental health of Long Island Sound.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed the agreement with state environmental officials at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, and announced $4 million of new funding shared equally between New York and Connecticut for sound-related projects.
The deal establishes 30 goals for improving the sound, including reducing beach and shellfishing closures, restoring river runs for migratory fish and improving marine habitats.
The waterway is an important source of recreation and generates billions of dollars annually for the regional economy. But the Sound has suffered a series of problems, including a lobster die-off and beach and shellfishing closings.
The agreement calls for restoring the health of Long Island Sound by 2014, the 400th anniversary of Adriaen Block's exploration of Long Island Sound.
"We may not be able to return it fully to the pristine condition found in 1614, but we intend to make real progress in making Long Island Sound the very best it can be for everyone who lives, works and vacations here," said Jane Kenny, EPA regional administrator.
The new deal, which builds on a plan outlined in 1994 for cleaning up the sound, calls for reducing nitrogen discharges into the sound by 58.5 percent by 2014; restoring at least 2,000 acres of habitat and 100 river miles for fish passage by 2008. It also sets targets for acquiring open space, decreasing the acreage closed year-round to shellfishing due to bacteria pollution by 10 percent from 2000 levels, and eliminating chronic bathing beach closures by 2010.
The Pawcatuck and Mystic rivers in Connecticut will be nominated next year as a no discharge areas, making waste discharges from boats illegal. By next year, officials plan to map areas of the sound that support eelgrass, an important habitat for fish and shellfish species, and promote research into the causes of its degradation.
U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, said more funding is needed to restore Long Island Sound, which he said is as valuable a natural resource as Yellowstone National Park.
"I don't think we're making the kind of progress we need to make," Shays said. "It's just on the edge as far as I'm concerned."
Other officials and activists welcomed the call for more funding, and said progress has been made in cleaning up the sound. Environmental officials from Connecticut and New York said nitrogen levels already have been reduced in recent years by upgrading sewage treatment plants.
Officials already have achieved 26 percent of the goal for reducing nitrogen discharges, which deplete oxygen, restored 465 acres of habitat and reopened 43 miles of river runs for fish, according to Robert Varney, an EPA administrator.
John Atkin, co-chairman of a citizens advisory committee and president of Save the Sound, said the committee enthusiastically endorses the agreement and will push officials to make sure the goals are implemented.
Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland and New York Gov. George E. Pataki did not attend the agreement signing. But supporters hope to bring both governors to an event on the Sound next year to call attention to the effort."
Maybe, just maybe we are entering an era of governments and private utilities working to restore the habitat that they allowed to be destroyed. One can hope.
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