Long Island Sound

Long Island Sound is a vital environmental, recreational, tourist, and economic resource to New York and Connecticut, providing economic value of $17 - $37 billion. The health of the Sound is crucial to the livelihood of the communities that surround it. There are more than 23 million people living within a 50-mile radius of Long Island Sound, and it supports more than 191,000 watershed-dependent jobs.

Despite the Sound's immense environmental and economic value, the health of LIS is threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, and invasive species. CCE has made meaningful progress to protect and restore the Sound, including a significant reduction in nitrogen levels and protection of critical habitat in New York and Connecticut.  While progress has been made, much more work remains to protect the Sound. CCE works at the local, state, and federal levels to protect Long Island Sound's water quality, wildlife habitat, open spaces, and heritage

CCE works at the local, state, and federal levels to protect Long Island Sound's water quality, wildlife habitat, open spaces, and heritage:

Great Lakes


The Great Lakes are a natural wonder of the world that holds one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply. Comprising over 700 miles of New York's shoreline, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River hold the key to our economic health, recreation, and irreplaceable family experiences.

The Great Lakes supply millions of New Yorkers with their drinking water, provide habitat for wildlife, and support billion dollar industries such as tourism and fishing.The Great Lakes ecosystem is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent treasure troves of natural resources on Earth.

Despite progress to protect and restore the Great Lakes since the adoption of the Clean Water Act, the Great Lakes remain threatened by pollution, invasive species and habitat destruction. New York is dependent upon a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, yet inaction continues and signs of decline are apparent.

CCE works at the local, state, and federal level to protect Great Lakes water quality and quantity by championing several Great Lakes campaigns and initiatives:

Protect Our Drinking Water from 1,4-Dioxane

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1,4-Dioxane is a hidden carcinogen lurking in everyday products. It can be found in laundry detergents and more than 46% of personal care products, including baby products, shampoos, body wash, and lotions. The EPA has established that 1,4-dioxane is likely to be carcinogenic to humans. Sewage and septic systems are not designed to filter out this contaminant, making our water resources very susceptible to contamination.

Manufacturers can remove 1,4-dioxane from products cheaply and easily. The FDA recommends manufacturers remove the chemical, but unfortunately many do not take this critical step.

CCE is working to establish strong, health-based drinking water standards for 1,4-dioxane, as well as banning the dangerous chemical from consumer products.  Learn more about CCE’s work to protect our health and environment from 1,4-dioxane.

Ocean Protection


Home to a rich variety of fish and wildlife, the Atlantic Ocean is a beautiful place for families to swim in and fish from, and acts as an economic driver for the Mid-Atlantic region. Ocean industries contribute over $47 billion to the region's gross domestic product, providing us with delicious seafood, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and valuable recreation opportunities.

Our enjoyment of these places relies on their continued health. Unfortunately, ocean ecosystems are facing a rising number of threats, such as pollution, overfishing, rising temperatures, and ocean acidification.

CCE works at the local, state and regional level to ensure healthy ocean ecosystems so that we can enjoy vibrant and healthy oceans now and for generations to come.

Onondaga Lake

Onondaga Lake, located on the northwest side of Syracuse, NY, is improving after a century of abuse. Great strides in water quality improvements have been made as a result of action required under the Clean Water Act and Superfund by Onondaga County and Honeywell International, respectively. CCE is active in efforts to improve overall water quality of Onondaga Lake and engage the Onondaga Lake watershed community on opportunities to help protect Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Lake is a unique treasure to the Syracuse and Onondaga County community. The largely undeveloped the waterfront is owned by the public and restoration provides opportunities to reclaim this as a community asset.

CCE was involved in working with the community to make the transition from the federally legislated Onondaga Lake Partnership group to the current Onondaga Lake Watershed Partnership group. CCE currently sits on this committee and the outreach sub-committee.

Long Island Sound
South Shore Estuary Reserve

Photo Courtesy of William Fahey

Photo Courtesy of William Fahey

The South Shore Estuary Reserve is a unique place for Long Island where saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean and fresh water from upland streams and groundwater mix. This 326 square mile watershed includes a system of streams and estuaries emptying into 173 square miles of south shore bays and wetlands. The Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve extends for over 70 miles along the Atlantic shoreline of Long Island, from Reynolds Channel in Nassau County to the eastern shores of Shinnecock Bay in Suffolk County.  As part of CCE’s work on the SSER, we work to protect and restore the Western Bays and Forge River:

The Western Bays is a sub-region of the South Shore Estuary Reserve, extending from the western boundary of the Town of Hempstead to the Nassau/Suffolk County line. They are home to the largest concentration of salt marshes in the South Shore Estuary Reserve. This system of bays and marshes provides critical habitat for birds and marine species, and offer abundant recreational opportunities for residents and tourists. Once productive fishing and shellfishing grounds, the water quality and habitat of the bays has deteriorated in recent decades. CCE continues to advocate for additional research to be done in order to diagnose and fix the ecological problems seen in this region.

The Forge River has experienced poor water quality since the early part of the 20th century. The combination of antiquated cesspools, failing septic systems, polluting duck farms, population growth and polluted stormwater runoff have adversely and severely degraded the river. The upper Forge River is included in the NYS DEC 303 (d) list as an impaired water body for pathogens, nitrogen, and dissolved oxygen/oxygen demand. CCE is working to protect and restore this important river.