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Source: The Island Now

U.S. Sen. Schumer calls for Long Island Sound pollution funds


Posted: April 9, 2016
Originally Published: April 7, 2016

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) on Monday called for the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture to prioritize federal funds in a recently released “Nitrogen-Reduction Strategy” for the Long Island Sound.

Speaking at the North Hempstead Town Dock in Port Washington, Schumer said while the Long Island Sound does get some funding, more is needed to prevent increased nitrogen pollution levels in the water.

“Unfortunately, as it stands, the sound is not adequately protected,” he said. “And current efforts are not putting its future on the right trajectory.”

In December, the EPA released its “Nitrogen-Reduction Strategy” for the Long Island Sound, which would help reduce low-oxygen dead zones and eventually eliminate algal blooms and allow salt marshes to subsist.

“Without federal funding, the EPA strategy could stall and the Long Island Sound and all of Long Island will suffer,” Schumer said.

He said increased nitrogen levels are caused by septic systems, cesspools and fertilizers used in some farms, residential lawns and golf courses, as well as storm water runoff and sewage treatment plants.

Schumer also said there were three places in which the Long Island Sound could receive the necessary funds.

Those include a line item allocation in the Environmental Appropriations bill, USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership and money the federal government supplies state governments for sewage clean-up.

Schumer said he secured $3.5 million for the Long Island Sound Environmental Appropriations bill last year.

“These three sources create a waterfall of funds that we need to flow into the sound,” he said.

Schumer said protecting the sound was important because of its contributions to Long Island’s economic development and role as a source for recreation.

The Long Island Sound, he said, generates nearly $9 billion annually through tourism, recreation, fishing and increased property values of home’s on the water.

“It is a great source of recreation for residents and visitors even without the economics,” Schumer said. “For more reasons than one, we’ve got to protect the sound.”

He was joined at the Town Dock by North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Tracy Brown from the Save our Sound organization and Paul DeOrsay of the Friends of the Bay organization.

Bosworth said she was thankful for Schumer’s work in securing funds for the Long Island Sound and joined his call for the federal government to provide funds for the “Nitrogen-Reduction Strategy.”

“Most of the time those of us in elected office talk about moving forward, but in this instance, we need to move backwards to a time when our waterways were more pristine, healthy and home to an abundance of fish, shell fish and marine life,” she said.