President's Budget Proposal
As an Estuary of National Significance, the immense value of the Long Island Sound cannot be overstated. Twenty million people live within 50 miles of the Sound’s beaches. Residents of New York and Connecticut depend on the Sound for recreational opportunities, fishing, sailing, and swimming. The Sound is also a critical component to a healthy regional economy, generating $8.25 billion annually. The LIS Stewardship and Restoration Acts expired in 2010. These two pieces of legislation provide the federal framework and a funding stream to achieve the restoration goals crucial to the long term environmental and economic integrity of Long Island Sound.
In 2011, a combined Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. It is crucial that our congressional leaders work quickly to pass this important legislation to provide the funding needed to advance the restoration goals of our region’s most important aquatic resource. Without immediate action, federal funding is in jeopardy of being lost for vital restoration and protection efforts in the Long Island Sound. Take Action Now!
Federal Dollars are Leveraged
The Long Island Sound Restoration Act monies represent the backbone to the entire protection and restoration program for the Sound. Despite advances in restoration, problems still persist. Continued investment is needed to continue progress in restoring the health of the Long Island Sound.
LIS Lobster Population in a State of Decline
LIS lobster populations have been in a sharp decline for almost 15 years, as the resource struggles to adapt to rising water temperatures and poor water quality. In 2011, commercial lobstermen in LIS yielded less than 145,000 lbs of lobsters - a drastic reduction from the 3.5 million lbs harvested in 1998 before the die-off began. In response, the federal government has continually imposed strict restrictions on Connecticut’s commercial lobster industry, while ignoring the underlying water quality problems that are affecting the fishery. In order to aid this once robust fishery, keep the historic tradition of lobstering, and create green jobs, the federal government must provide adequate funding for wastewater treatment and Sound restoration projects!
Oysters, mussels, and clams are an important part of our local economy and maritime culture; a culinary delight to many; and critical for healthy waters. Shellfish act as “filter feeders”, as each oyster and clam can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. This helps improve water quality by removing pollutants, such as excess nitrogen. While lobster populations continue to struggle in the Sound, shellfish are on the rise. In 2006, the oyster harvest generated $4.4 million and in 2007 it grew to $7.4 million. The clam population has been steadily increasing since 1995. In 2007 the harvest was valued at $31 million. On June 1, 2011, for the first time in 40 years, Hempstead Harbor was reopened to shellfishing due to improvements in water quality! To continue the progress made in restoring our shellfish, sustained investment is needed from the federal government - NY and CT cannot fund this alone!
Reducing Point Source Pollution
Each day thousands of pounds of nitrogen pollution enter the Sound, mainly from sewage treatment plants. Excessive nitrogen pollution leads to hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen) or anoxia (no dissolved oxygen), making it difficult to sustain life. In 1998, NY, CT, and the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to reduce nitrogen entering the Sound by 58.5 percent by 2014. To date, nitrogen has been reduced by 25,444 equalized pounds per day, which is 70% of the goal. There is still another 11,000 equalized pounds per day to go!
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) was created by Congress in 1987 to provide zero or low interest loans to municipalities to aide in the construction and repair of advanced wastewater treatment systems. The federal government has continually cut funding for vital wastewater infrastructure in recent years, shifting the burden to local governments. Projects to fix and improve outdated sewage treatment infrastructure in Connecticut and New York State are estimated at $5 billion and $36 billion, respectively, over the next 20 years. Progress must continue to upgrade sewage treatment plants and reduce harmful nitrogen pollution. Federal investment must continue, as NY and CT cannot fund this alone!
Protecting and Restoring Important Habitat
Healthy tidal wetlands, sea grass beds, beaches, and bluffs are critical for the survival of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife found in the Sound's watershed. In 1998, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) adopted a goal to restore 2,000 acres of coastal habitat and 100 miles for fish passage in rivers where dams and other structures have blocked fish from swimming upstream to reproduce. To date 1,045 acres of ecologically important habitat has been restored and 158 miles of fish passage has been created. Federal funding is needed to continue this progress -- NY and CT cannot fund these goals alone!
CCE, with the support of its members, has advocated for the protection of the Long Island Sound by securing funding and advancing stronger policy. In 1985 Congress created the Long Island Sound Study (LISS). The LISS is a collaborative effort, which includes government agencies, not-for-profits, and individuals; all working to restore and protect the Sound. CCE serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the LISS. Through the LISS, a Comprehensive Management Plan has been developed and is currently being implemented. The LISS has received federal funding through the Long Island Sound Restoration Act and the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act. While progress has been made, in 2010 the LISS estimated that over $70 million worth of investments was needed for LI Sound restoration, not including necessary upgrades to sewage treatment plants on either side of the Sound. NY and CT cannot fund these efforts alone!
Tell Congress We Need Clean Water
In 2010 and 2011, Congress failed to reauthorize the LIS Restoration Act, leaving funding for critical programs to protect the Sound in limbo. An adequate and consistent funding source is needed to continue progress on important restoration efforts in Long Island Sound. We need to urge Congress to pass the LIS Restoration and Stewardship Act now to provide adequate funding to continue programs needed to protect public health, our local economy, and quality of life.
How you can help:
Write to your two U.S. senators, your representative in the U.S. House, and President Obama. Urge them to reauthorize the LI Sound Restoration Act now, provide at least $7 million for LIS programs in FY 2013, and increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- Include your name and address.
- Write the message in your own words.
- Share how important restoring Long Island Sound is to you.
- Urge your Congressional representatives and President Obama to do three key things: reauthorize the LIS Restoration Act, increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and provide at least $7 million in the 2013 budget for the LI Sound restoration effort.
- Ask them to respond to you with their position.
Visit CCE’s Aquatic Invasive Species page to learn how various introduced organisms impact estuaries, such as Long Island Sound, and how to take action to stop these ecologically harmful invasions.
For more information:
U.S. EPA, Long Island Sound Study Management Plan
Updated by tbono 8/1/12