Water is essential to a prosperous and safe community. CCFE is involved in efforts designed to improve and protect water resources in New York, Connecticut, and the nation.
The Great Lakes
Protecting, restoring and improving the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater ecosystem on the globe, is a core program area for CCFE. CCFE actively works throughout New York with the Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition. CCFE's Great Lakes campaign benefits the health and welfare of all NYS's residents that rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, and a healthy economy.This includes sixteen percent of NY's population that live in the fifteen counties that surround that Great Lakes. Forty percent of New York State's land mass is wholly contained in the Great Lakes basin.
Working at the local, state, and federal level, CCFE champions a number of initiatives to protect water quality and quantity. Highlights of CCFE's work in 2011 to protect and restore the Great Lakes include:
Great Lakes Education Day in Albany
CCFE participated in Great Lakes Education Day in Albany, on March 9, 2011. CCFE and representatives from other environmental organizations and academia set up educational tables in the New York State Legislative Office Building, to educate legislators and staff about problems and solutions regarding the health of our Great Lakes. CCFE and partners also met with state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State, to coordinate the NGO community and state on efforts to protect and restore the lakes.
Fly-in to Washington, DC, to Educate Policymakers About the Successes of Great Lakes Restoration
CCFE traveled to Washington, DC, on September 19 - 20, 2011, to meet with members of the New York State Congressional Delegation. CCFE educated the Congressional members and their staff on success stories of Great Lakes protection and restoration in their districts. Providing on the ground success stories enables Congress to understand the tangible benefits of federal programs to protect our precious Great Lakes.
7th Annual Healing Our Waters Coalition Conference in Detroit, MI
CCFE participated in the national annual Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition Conference held in Detroit, MI, October 12-14, 2011. This year's conference was part of Great Lakes Week in Detroit, which brought the HOW conference together with conferences from Great Lakes Commission, International Joint Commission, and US Area of Concern Program. This diverse and robust gathering of NGOs, bi-national government officials, business leaders, and other stakeholders helped to unite and solidify the many stakeholders working to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
Onondaga Lake Watershed
Onondaga Lake Superfund Remediation
CCFE is an active stakeholder in the New York State led Onondaga Lake Bottom Federal Superfund site, in which Honeywell is the Principal Responsible Party. Ongoing and meaningful citizen participation in this project is a CCFE priority.
Save the Rain. Clean the Lake.
Strong partnerships between citizens and government have resulted in significant improvements in the health of Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Lake has historically been impaired by combined sewage overflows, inadequate sewage treatment, and urban runoff. Onondaga County has been under a Consent Decree to improve water quality (the Amended Consent Judgment or "ACJ"). Due to strong public support, cost concerns, and a more sustainable approach to managing storm water, Onondaga County and parties amended the ACJ to require green infrastructure projects strategies to reduce polluted runoff and combined sewer overflow to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. CCFE's Sarah Eckel served on the Green Infrastructure Outreach Committee that helped advance green infrastructure strategies to achieve water pollution reduction requirements to reduce combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and influenced the development and launch of the County's robust and innovative "Save the Rain" campaign. In 2011, CCFE supported the diverse partnership charged with implementing this ground breaking "Save the Rain" program.
Onondaga Lake Partnership
The Federal, State and local governments have been active partners, as well as community leaders. CCFE serves on the outreach committee for the Onondaga Lake Partnership (OLP). The OLP is established under the Water Resources Development Act and is served by the Army Corps of Engineers, US. Environmental Protection Agency, Onondaga County, City of Syracuse, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Office New York State Attorney General, as well as local historical, conservation, and environmental groups. The OLP is moving forward with designing and installing interpretative watershed signs, is supporting watershed education in the classroom, and published the Onondaga Lake Progress and Action Strategy as well as two informative status updates widely distributed as an insert in the Post Standard.
New York and Connecticut Estuaries
Long Island Estuaries
New York State is fortunate to have over 1,500 square miles of bays and estuaries and 120 miles of ocean shoreline. The Long Island Sound and the South Shore Estuary Reserve contribute to the regional economy, New York and Connecticut's current culture, and their historical maritime culture. CCFE works to preserve, protect, and restore our ecologically important bays and estuaries. CCFE is an active member of the Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and chairs the South Shore Estuary Reserve (SSER) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The LISS CAC meets four times a year, and the SSER CAC meets bi-monthly.
Suffolk County Clam Management Workgroup
In order to protect and manage the possible recovery of the hard clam population in the Great South Bay, the Suffolk County Department of Environment and Energy convened the Great South Bay Hard Clam Restoration Working Group in late 2008. The working group developed interim management measures, which each town within the Great South Bay adopted in 2010. In 2011 the working group worked on long term management recommendations.
CCFE is an active member of the working group. The working group met monthly throughout 2011. The working group also hosted three public stakeholder meetings (May 25, September 20, and November 9) that CCFE participated in.
Western Bays Campaign
In 2011 CCFE continued to work with "The Western Bays Collaboration Working Group." The working group is made up of elected leaders and stakeholder organizations with the goal of restoring our Western Bays. Partners include: Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, NC Legislator Denise Ford, NC Legislator Dave Denenberg, NC Legislator Howard Kopel, Nassau County Executive Mangano's Office, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Operation SPLASH, Point Lookout Civic Association, and Green Bay Parkers. The goal of the Working Group is to restore the Western Bays. In 2011, the working group held two public forums to update community members and stakeholders on the state of the bays and new research underway. The forums were held on February 10 and December 9, with approximately 75 members in attendance at each forum.
Long Island Sound (LIS) Protection
CCFE actively educates members of the public and elected leaders on the progress being made in restoring the health of Long Island Sound, as well as new emerging threats to the Sound. CCFE works to ensure that there is adequate money for protection and restoration of the Sound.
In the summer of 2011, CCFE cosponsored and participated in the LISS CAC Sound Vision events. These events were held in NY and CT around the Sound. The purpose of the events was to educate members of the public and elected leaders on the newly developed action agenda that the CAC put together.
Northport Harbor Water Quality Protection
The Northport Harbor Water Quality Protection Committee (NWQPC) was established in the spring of 2010 and has since successfully identified a comprehensive plan to restore water quality in the Northport/ Centerport Harbor complex. The plan focuses on reducing nitrogen loading in the bays using stormwater runoff mitigation and upgrades to sewage infrastructure. The plan also includes a subcommittee on education and outreach that aims to increase resident awareness about limiting fertilizer and pesticide application, as well as controlling runoff on private properties with natural vegetation. Many of the committees' established efforts are already underway, and others are in the planning stages. The NWQPC has provided a forum to inform and engage multiple levels of government, agencies and stakeholder organizations in the restoration and preservation process. Local, county, state, and federal elected officials, agencies, and non-profit groups are working together to identify needs and solutions. In 2011, the committee successfully secured funding for several matrix items. The Village of Northport was provided a low interest loan from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) to upgrade its sewage treatment plant to come into compliance with 2014 nitrogen standards. The committee also helped to secure research funding; Stony Brook University was provided a grant from NOAA to study red tide issues in Northport Harbor. The Committee is confident that a combination of our planned remediation efforts, both small and large, will significantly aid in restoring the harbors. In 2011 the committee met in May and July.
The Carmans River, located in Brookhaven, NY, is one of four major rivers on Long Island. It used to be a 10-mile river, beginning north of the Long Island Expressway and flowing all the way to the Great South Bay. Centuries ago, dams were installed that created a series of lakes. The lakes have since provided energy, recreation, and a source of income for citizens in the area.
Recently, the Carmans River has been seriously threatened by two invasive plant species, Variable Leaf Milfoil and Cabomba. These are highly invasive species that have been increasing in population steadily since their introduction to the lakes a few years ago. These invasive species have become so concentrated that they have choked out native plants and marine life, inhibiting life in the river.
In December of 2007, a Carmans River Task Force was created to address the serious invasive plant problem. CCFE teamed up with Yaphank residents, elected officials, and other organizations to address the problems in these lakes. CCFE's Executive Director, Adrienne Esposito, oversees the seventeen diverse members that make up the working group. The main goal of the Task Force is to review and evaluate all options of management and eradication of the invasive species of the upper and lower lakes.
In 2011, CCFE continued to be active as Chair of the Carmans River Working Group. The group convened multiple times to continue developing a method that will remediate the invasive species throughout the Upper and Lower Lakes. Suffolk County's Consultant, NPV, crafted a comprehensive Scoping Document to ensure stakeholder input into this important study. The working group supported the consultant's recommendations and began moving forward with the suggested remediation methods. These actions include a combination of dredging of soft sediment; limited, targeted use of aquatic pesticides; and a follow-up management plan to keep the lake free of invasive species.
Power Plants Kill Fish
In June 2009 CCFE launched a new campaign entitled "Power Plants Kill Fish" to educate members of the public and elected officials on how Long Island's five steam electric power plants effect marine life. CCFE worked with Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC) to release the report "Power Plants Kill Fish: National Grids LI Power Plants and their Adverse Effects on Coastal Fish," as well as report identifying the problems with power plants across the state, entitled "Reeling in New York's Aging Power Plants”. In 2011 CCFE continued to educate members of the public on how power plants kill billions of fish, fish eggs, and fish larvae a year due to their destructive open-water cooling systems.
The Forge River has experienced a steady degradation from excessive nitrogen, mostly related to a dense population on septic systems. The river has been officially declared an "impaired water body" by the NYS DEC.
The Forge River regularly experiences episodes of hypoxia (inadequate oxygen), resulting in fish kills, noxious odors, and the loss of marine-related businesses, recreation, and tourism. Currently, the Forge River is undergoing a watershed management plan, which is a critical step in consolidating existing research and combining historic and scientific knowledge into a restoration plan for the river. CCFE has been appointed a member of the Forge River Task Force. The Taskforce is made up of elected officials, state and local agencies, and stakeholder organizations. The task force provides guidance in development of the watershed management plan, as well as other restoration efforts surrounding this body of water. CCFE attended meetings in October, November, and December of 2011.
Long Island Sewage Report Card
CCFE released the first Long Island Sewage Report Card. In a comprehensive snapshot, CCFE researched and analyzed 10 sewage treatment plants across Long Island. The Huntington Sewage Treatment Plant had the top score of an A+. The Bay Park, Long Beach, and Stony Brook Plants all tied with the worst score: D. Plants were graded on violations, public notification procedures, energy efficiency measures, public education, and climate change adaptation. CCFE reviewed five years of discharge data for each STP and also graded on energy efficiency, stormwater runoff mitigation, climate change adaptation, and other key factors.
Throughout 2011, CCFE worked with the Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water to promote water conservation, water efficiency, and green infrastructure throughout Rockland County to avoid the construction of an energy intensive water filtration plant from being built along the Hudson River. The Hudson River is an important estuary that contributes to New York's economy, heritage, recreation, environment, and aesthetic beauty. A desalination plant would use enormous amounts of energy, contribute to climate change, and have a significant negative impact on the quality of this important river.
The Rockland Coalition meets on a bi-monthly basis with over twenty participating members. CCFE is developing a white paper on desalination and promoting sustainable water solutions for Rockland County. This paper will be released in Spring of 2012
In 2011, CCFE continued collaborations with a number of environmental organizations in the NY Ocean and Great Lake Coalition to advance ocean and Great Lakes protection and restoration.