A Time to Be Grateful: A Healthy Sound for 2016

This is the eighth and final installment in our “A Time to Be Grateful” series. See all the posts here.

The Sound is crying for New Year Action

As you make your New Year’s resolutions, there are many ways you can help Long Island Sound. And for that, we are grateful.

2016 New Year’s Resolutions for Save the Sound


NewYearSampleResolution 1: Shape Powerful Nitrogen Pollution Reduction for the entire Sound

Excess nitrogen is choking the Sound with ugly and sometimes harmful algae blooms, and sucking oxygen that all animal life needs. Last year, we filed an EPA Petition demanding that EPA create a new nitrogen pollution reduction action plan. We await a response. We will use our legal leverage and our water quality monitoring expertise and leadership coupled with new Sound Health Explorer results to assure that a plan arises that is strong and spurs focused action in our bays and harbors that are choking from a lack of oxygen.

Your Role: Instead of traditional lawn fertilizers, opt for fertilizers with zero nitrogen and phosphorus, and adopt other earth-friendly gardening tips. Or if citizen science excites you, join a small group of volunteers who will be measuring oxygen levels in their local bays and harbors.

NewYearMarshesResolution 2: Restore Rivers and Healthy Marshes

We will be restoring three rivers in 2016 by taking down three dams and building a fishway!

Your Role: This April and May join us in planting river banks where we are removing dams in New Haven, CT and Mystic, CT. Or participate in activities for World Fish Migration Day in May. Out on Long Island, NY, join us in removing 18 acres of impervious parking lot in Sunken Meadow State Park, this spring. Plus, help us replant and restore marshes to improve water quality for the largest coastal marsh on the south shore of Long Island Sound.

Resolution 3:  Use the Westchester Case to Compel a Solution to Bacterial Pollution               

In November 2015 we filed a Clean Water Act case to compel Westchester County and 11 municipalities to clean up bacterial contamination caused by leaking and decrepit sewer systems. We also worked with a diverse coalition that succeeded in creating a new state fund for local water infrastructure projects. NewYearBioswaleIn 2016 Save the Sound will continue as a leader in this coalition, calling for an additional state allocation of $800 million for water infrastructure grants. This money, combined with the $200 million currently in the fund, will be available to Westchester communities for sewer system repairs and upgrades.

Your Role: Become a Save the Sound watchdog. If sewer overflows happen in your neighborhood, they affect your family’s health. Check out these examples of what to look for and report any that you see. Also, next spring you can help us plant rain gardens in New Haven, CT and Bridgeport, CT. They act like sponges, filtering out bacteria from the water and absorbing stormwater runoff.




Resolution 4: Save Plum Island! It’s time to take serious action to save this remarkable 650-acre de facto wildlife refuge. Please join in supporting our next steps, and tell your elected officials to Save Plum Island!

Thank you if you are already a supporting member – because without you, we cannot save Plum Island or take on any of these critical resolutions. If you haven’t gotten around to it, make a resolution and click now to join!



Our collective actions from 2015 to restore and protect our beloved Long Island Sound should shape our resolutions for 2016.

Consider these moments in the life of the Sound in the past year:

  • This spring, river herring runs up the Sound’s rivers and creeks were the lowest in years, a tiny fraction of historic numbers. All of the Sound’s creatures we love – from ospreys to striped bass to dolphins and wading birds – feed on these fish. Fewer herring, less life.
  • Nitrogen pollution kicked off a massive toxic algae bloom last May in Peconic Bay, NY – poisoning shellfish, killing terrapin turtle, and suffocating tens of thousands of silvery bunker or menhaden fish.
  • Several bays and harbors around the Sound again exhibited disturbing nitrogen poisoning symptoms in July and August: Oxygen was sucked out of the water, dense mats of slimy nuisance algae appeared, and Northport Harbor, NY once again hosted a dense, unsightly toxic algae bloom that closed shellfish beds.
  • Bacterial conditions at our beaches in a wide area of the Connecticut coast appears noticeably worse over the past five years than the previous five years. Too many beaches received poor grades (C’s, D’s, F’s) for bacterial conditions as documented in our Sound Health Explorer.
  • A Sound-wide Report Card issued in May gave the western Sound’s waters both D and F.

There were signs of hope as well. Humpback whales and schools of dolphin gorged on plentiful schools of bunker or menhaden. The waters of the Sound appeared clearer this summer partially because of dry weather coupled with sewage treatment upgrades.

What’s it all mean? The Sound remains teetering on the edge, still an ecosystem in the intensive care unit. We hope you’ll join us in the clean up to make your water safe for a swim or a paddle—and a vibrant marine habitat for wildlife!


Posted By Curt Johnson, Executive Director of CFE’s Save the Sound program


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Tuesday, February 2, 12:00 p.m.
Environmental Film Club: "Blue Carbon - A Story from the Snohomish Estuary" - Nearly all major US cities are built on or around an estuary because of the numerous benefits they provide. Join Save the Sound’s ecological restoration staff as they discuss the role that healthy estuaries play in keeping carbon out of our atmosphere and how our restoration projects support your natural environments.

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