According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) Long Island Sound (LIS) is the largest and most important natural resource in the state. More than 8 million people live in the Long Island Sound watershed and countless others utilize its resources for recreational activities such as boating, fishing and swimming. The Sound is also a major draw for tourists, providing millions of dollars each year to the state economy.
People are not the only beneficiaries of a healthy Sound. The Sound provides important habitat to birds, both migrating and year round inhabitants and other plant and animal communities. Protecting water quality in the Long Island Sound Watershed and throughout the waterways in the state of Connecticut is an important part of our environmental legacy.
“If it goes on the ground, it goes in the Sound.”
-Long Island Sound Study
Pollution is a major threat to the health of the LIS ecosystem as well as our rivers, lakes, streams and other wetlands. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment plants, Non Point Source (NPS) pollution comes from many different sources, making it harder to pinpoint and regulate. NPS is carried over land by stormwater runoff, picking up contaminants along the way, eventually depositing them into local watercourses. NPS pollutants from residential, commercial and other industrial activities present the greatest threat to the LIS. While a single household is not to blame, the cumulative effect of entire neighborhoods and industrial areas can be devastating.
What is carried into the water?
- Excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from residential as well as agricultural uses
- Road salts, heavy metals, oil, grease and other toxic chemicals
- Sediment from improperly managed construction sites
- Bacteria and other nutrients from pet waste, septic systems and livestock
The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) has found that pollutants can affect the ecosystem:
- Fertilizers and pesticides can kill fish and damage shellfish beds and aquatic plants.
- Soil washed into the sound can harm fish eggs and clog up waterways.
- Hypoxia, or low dissolved oxygen concentrations caused by nitrogen enrichments from sewage treatment plants and stormwater runoff.
- Algae blooms form, consuming oxygen as they decompose, suffocating organisms and lowering water quality for marine life.
[doc:30036|link:Sound Health: Status and Trends in the Health of Long Island Sound], Long Island Sound Study
[doc:30041|link:Backyard Buffers], Connecticut River Joint Commission
[doc:30046|link:Low Impact Development Resources Guide], CT DEP
New Milford based company, Arthur H. Howland and Associates, P.C. offers LID services.
The Low Impact Development Center, Inc. is a good resource for projects around the country and information sharing.
CT Sea Grant, NEMO, and UCONN Department of Extension’s [doc:30051|link:Planting Guide for Riparian Sites] along the Connecticut Coast. This guide features sections on “what to avoid if you have a coastal property” and “what you can do to manage a coastal property.
If you are interested in learning which plants are good to plant along riparian corridors, the areas along the sides or rivers, streams, lakes and other bodies of water, please download [doc:30056|link:CT Sea Grant’s Riparian Corridor Plant booklet].