EPA and Partners Release New Blueprint to Protect and Restore Long Island Sound
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 27, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Long Island Sound Study has released a new Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for restoring and protecting the Long Island Sound, setting 20 ambitious targets to be achieved by 2035. Among these goals are: a reduced number of beach closures due to sewage pollution; a reduced area of the Sound with unhealthy oxygen levels; improved water clarity; restored coastal wetlands; increased open space; and a reduction in the amount of plastic marine debris in the Sound. This plan builds on the successes of the original 1994 CCMP by incorporating scientific and technological advances, incorporating the current needs of Sound communities, and addressing new environmental challenges, while emphasizing sustainability, climate change resilience, and environmental justice.
In addition to being a critical environmental and ecological resource for the region, the Long Island Sound and its watershed is a critical economic driver, providing tens of billions of dollars in estimated annual economic goods and services annually.
“This CCMP update builds on the progress made to date and provides an action plan for 21st century challenges, said EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “This plan outlines action on climate change impacts and pollution management. It is important that the plan makes sustainability and resiliency an integral part of achieving a cleaner, healthier Long Island Sound for people to enjoy.”
“Hurricane Sandy changed forever how we think about our coasts and coastal communities,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator. “The plan highlights that actions can be taken to adapt to climate change, making Long Island Sound healthier and our communities and economy more resilient.”
“People from all over this region enjoy the use and beauty of Long Island Sound and benefit from its resources thanks in part to the dedication of those who took action in 1994 to create and adopt a plan to restore and protect it from the impacts of 300 years of human development,” said Robert Klee, Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). “It is now our obligation to make certain we leave a Sound that future generations are able to enjoy and benefit from as well. The new Long Island Sound CCMP builds on the successes we have achieved, details new present day initiatives and sets goals for the future. Key areas of focus in the plan will empower us to meet the challenges like climate change, and continued land use and development pressures, in order to ensure the future of this precious resource.”
“Long Island Sound is an important ecological and economic treasure, and the new CCMP provides a strong blueprint for all partners to follow in keeping it on the road to recovery,” said Marc Gerstman, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “New York State remains committed to advancing this ambitious agenda, and we look forward to working with our federal, state and local partners to build on the successes we’ve achieved over the last 20 years and utilize our best available science to tackle the emerging threats of climate change, nitrogen pollution and habitat loss that face this incredible ecosystem.”
The new CCMP includes 20 targets for the Long Island Sound, to be achieved by 2035. These include:
• Reducing beach closures due to sewage by 50%.
• Reducing areas of water with unhealthy oxygen levels by about 28%.
• Improving water clarity to support eelgrass.
• Increasing the area of natural vegetation within 300 feet of all streams and lakes in New York and Connecticut to 75%.
• Restoring 3,000 acres of coastal habitat by 2035.
• Conserving an additional 4,000 acres of open space in Connecticut and 3,000 acres in New York.
• Reducing the five-year average of marine debris collected from the sound by more than 300 pounds per mile surveyed.
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as nonprofit and community groups and businesses, the Long Island Sound Study partnership first released a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan in 1994. Implementation of that plan in the past 20 years has yielded tangible results.
• Under an innovative, bi-state program to reduce nitrogen pollution, there are now 40 million fewer pounds annually of nitrogen discharged from wastewater treatment facilities to Long Island Sound. In summer 2015, the area of the Sound affected by unhealthy levels of dissolved oxygen was the second smallest recorded in 28 years.
• More than a million gallons of recreational boat sewage are kept out of the water each year by the ‘No Discharge Zone’ for vessel waste in Long Island Sound, which was established by Connecticut and New York.
• The area of eelgrass beds, an important habitat for fish and shellfish, has increased by 29 percent between 2002 and 2012.
• Restoration of 1,650 acres of habitat, and the reopening of 317 miles of river and stream corridors to fish passage since 1998. Since 2006, Long Island Sound Study partners have protected 2,675 acres of open space and coastal habitat through easements and land acquisitions.
The CCMP was developed through a collaborative process involving federal, state and local governments, university scientists, and interested representatives of business, environmental, and community groups. The plan was finalized after careful consideration of 250 comments from the public on a draft version released in late 2014. Information on the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan is available athttp://www.longislandsoundstudy.net/CCMPinfo.Visit www.longislandsoundstudy.net for general information on the Long Island Sound Study.
What they are saying about the Long Island Sound CCMP:
For our economy and environment, the Long Island Sound is our region’s most precious natural resource. Protecting and restoring its priceless waters and habitats is of utmost importance. Over the last 20 years, the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan has resulted in significant reductions in nitrogen levels and sewage and surface pollutants while restoring valuable habitats. Work is far from over, and the Sound continues to face new and old challenges, from rising sea levels to algae blooms. This latest plan is appropriately ambitious—building on past success and pushing forward with new, and much needed conservation and management efforts. I applaud the Environmental Protection Agency for its direction, and look forward to working together to protect the Sound for generations to come.
–Senator Richard Blumenthal, Conn.
My two young boys spend every summer along the shore of the Long Island Sound. For the families like ours who work and play along the Sound, this conservation plan is welcome news. By using proven science and technology to strengthen the Sound’s resiliency against extreme weather and environmental changes, these new efforts will go a long way to protect and preserve one of Connecticut’s most valuable natural resources.
–Senator Chris Murphy, Conn.
Long Island Sound has always played a critical role in our regional economy and ecosystem, and it is a treasure worth preserving for future generations. For over two decades, the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan has united local, state, and Federal partners to manage our region’s largest estuary most effectively, and I hope to see the 2015 plan adopted swiftly to continue this legacy.
–Congressman Joe Courtney, Conn.
The Sound has always been of special importance to the people and communities of the 4th District. It’s where we live, work, and play and touches almost every aspect of our lives. Restoring the health of ecosystems around the Sound is not something we’re going to be able to achieve in a year, or even five years; it’s going to take dedicated long-term effort. That’s why I’m supportive of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, which takes the long view and lays out a detailed and thoughtful blueprint of how we can improve the vitality of the Sound for decades to come.
–Congressman Jim Himes, Conn.
The Long Island Sound is a regional and a national treasure, as well as a critical economic, recreational and environmental resource. This Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan will help us ensure its protection and preservation, and play an important role in leading us to a more resilient and healthy sound. As co-chair of the Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus, I will continue to fight for the funding needed to carry out the plan, and continue the restoration and protection of this ecosystem so that generations of Americans can continue to enjoy it.
–Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Conn.
The Long Island Sound supports a vibrant ecosystem and drives much of our region’s economy. It is imperative that we continue efforts to preserve both the Sound itself and the surrounding watershed for the good of our environment, economy, and generations to come. I commend the EPA for leading the effort to ensure we protect and preserve the Sound from natural and man-made threats.
–Congressman John Larson, Conn.
Over ten percent of our nation’s population lives within this 1,320-mile watershed. The Long Island Sound’s economic impact in Connecticut and across six states is critical—contributing nearly $10 billion to our economy each year. However, development along the shore has degraded the Sound’s ecosystem health. As a member of the U.S. House Long Island Sound Caucus, I wholeheartedly support the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, which will go a long way in restoring this unique and valuable ecosystem. This plan will ensure Long Island Sound’s unique ecological, economic, and recreational value is not lost on future generations.
–Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Conn.
This plan is a blueprint for action to make our beaches safe for swimming, and restore healthy waters for fish and wildlife. It’s time to move from blueprint to action.
–Curt Johnson, Conn. Co-chair of LIS Citizen Committee
As Co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, my top local economic and environmental priority in Congress has been to protect and preserve the Long Island Sound. This updated comprehensive plan identifies achievable and bold goals that will ensure the health and sustainability of the Sound for future generations of New Yorkers.
–Congressman Steve Israel, New York
The effects of climate change are already being felt at home in our communities. Storms like Hurricane Sandy have exposed the grave threat our warming planet poses to the Sound Shore region, and unless we take a more proactive approach to preserving our shorelines, we will be left constantly fighting an uphill battle. The Long Island Sound is a precious resource, and I support the ambitious goals outlined in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, which if met, would make the Sound cleaner and more resilient for generations to come.
–Congressman Eliot Engel, New York
Long Island Sound deserves a modern management plan to address the modern problems of climate change, habitat loss, and sustainability. This updated plan will help all levels of government, organizations and the public to restore Long Island Sound and protect our communities.
–Nancy Seligson, New York Co-chair of LIS Citizen Committee
Contact Information: Emily Bender, EPA Region 1, 617-918-1037,
Contact Information: Emily Bender, EPA Region 1, 617-918-1037,