Weekly Update: Starting 2023 with a Bang!

Aquaculture School Bridgeport rain garden
A rain garden installed at Bridgeport’s Regional Aquaculture Science and Education Center demonstrates one type of the green infrastructure we will continue to install in both Bridgeport and Greater New Haven. These gardens filter stormwater and runoff from roofs, roads, and other impervious surfaces while adding pockets of nature to urban landscapes.

Restoration projects receive impressive support from Congress 

Our region’s environmental champions in Congress came through for the Sound! Three of our ecological restoration projects and one Long Island Sound-wide program have received federal funding in the 2023 spending package passed last month. We are thankful to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York and Connecticut’s Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy for passing the federal spending plan which supports these projects. We also thank House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), representatives from across the region, and all constituents who supported this plan. Together, nearly $1 million will benefit water quality and community resilience in the Bronx, NY and Bridgeport and Hamden, CT. 

In the Bronx, $700,000 will support the second phase of an ongoing planning process to address water quality issues in the Hutchinson River, one of the state’s most polluted rivers. Save the Sound is creating a community-informed watershed plan to identify points of pollution and solutions for a cleaner river. Phase one encompasses the portion of the watershed in Westchester County and is expected to be completed this fall. This new funding, secured with the help of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, will allow the project team to move directly into the second phase of the plan, which covers the portion of the Hutchinson River that flows through the Bronx and into Long Island Sound, and is expected to allow for the advancement of one priority ecological restoration project identified through the planning process. 

Meanwhile, the funding awarded through the advocacy of Senators Blumenthal and Murphy will support green infrastructure in Bridgeport and Hamden. In the City of Bridgeport, $200,000 will facilitate the installation of right-of-way bioswales, a green infrastructure solution that has proven highly successful in New Haven. Their installation will divert thousands of gallons of stormwater from impervious roads to natural filters of plants roots, rocks, and sand, removing pollutants from the water before it reaches the nearest waterbody. Finally, $80,000 will be provided to cover the construction of a large bioretention area at Hamden’s Town Center Park this spring. This large area will resemble a landscaped garden and will perform a similar function of absorbing stormwater from the surrounding densely developed areas in Hamden. 

Congress also committed to a record $40 million investment in the Long Island Sound Geographic Program—aka the Long Island Sound Study (LISS)—an $8.6 million increase from Fiscal Year 2022. LISS funds on-the-ground projects to restore habitats and improve water quality, including several led by Save the Sound: the Unified Water Study, through which 26 groups monitor the water quality in 45 bays and harbors around the Sound, and our dam removal and restoration of the Norwalk River in Wilton, CT. LISS also is a critical funding source for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund, which awarded $456,600 for Save the Sound to inventory stream barriers in Westchester County. 

“It is a healthy boost for the Long Island Sound Study, and it’s an encouraging step toward supporting the important work required to restore, preserve, and transform the Long Island Sound watershed,” said Denise Stranko, our vice president of programs. “We encourage Congress to remain committed to funding this fight to the fullest.” 

Eco advocate honors indigenous heritage through sustainability work

Eco Advocate Lea Melendez 1

Lea Melendez, 24, is a game developer based in New York City, where she volunteers with environmental advocacy groups like the Post-Landfill Action Network and Games for Change. Melendez began her career at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she majored in Game Design, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at Parsons in Design and Technology; she hopes to use her education to incorporate eco-awareness into games and play. Melendez credits her environmental activism to her Taino heritage, which informs her belief systems surrounding land conservation and management. Read Lea’s story here.

Protecting land, drinking water, and DPH jurisdiction in northern CT 

Colebrook Reservoir bluffs 600 6

Water companies are critical conservation partners in Connecticut, collectively the second largest owners of open space land in the state. So, Save the Sound was concerned when the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) submitted a request for a declaratory ruling that challenged CT Department of Public Health’s (DPH) oversight of future and emergency water supplies, along with the lands that protect them, in order to sidestep the approval process for abandoning 10 billion gallons of water in Colebrook Reservoir near the Massachusetts border. Save the Sound attorneys intervened, arguing that a ruling in favor of MDC would put these water supplies and the thousands of acres protecting them at risk. At a January 5 hearing, MDC voluntarily withdrew its request for a declaratory ruling and agreed to file an abandonment permit. We’ll continue to track these proceedings and, if necessary, evaluate options to keep MDC’s 12,000 acres of source protection open space land protected. Learn more here

An office on the move

Save the Sound’s New Haven office is moving—but not far! Starting in February we’ll be just across the street, still overlooking the New Haven Green, in a space well-suited to hybrid work and our growing team. Stay tuned for photos as we get set up (and maybe even opportunities to visit).

You can mail us at:

127 Church Street, 2nd floor | New Haven, CT 06510

1385 Boston Post Road, 2nd floor, Larchmont, NY 10538

Quick Links

Upcoming Events

  • Breakfast Club: Join us for this quarterly, member-exclusive event with guest speaker Leah Lopez Schmalz, president of Save the Sound, Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8:30 a.m., virtual. Register here.
  • “Seeing Fair Haven through Residents’ Eyes: A Presentation on Capturing the Environmental Realities through Photography,” Thursday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m., New Haven, CT. Learn more & register here.

 Find details on these, and all our events, on our Stay Engaged page.

Photo of the Week

Our photo of the week is actually a video of the week: dolphins swimming in the Bronx River, shared by NYC Parks! Watch video here.

dolphin Bronx River tweet 600px

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Tuesday, May 21, in Windsor, CT
Celebrate World Fish Migration Day! Join us for a river walk, networking, the premiere screening of “Reconnected: Restoring the Rivers of Long Island Sound,” and a panel discussion with experts and advocates.

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