Senator Chuck Schumer recently held a press conference at the Town Dock in Port Washington to announce that $106 million dollars will be secured to protect, improve and preserve the Long Island Sound. This money was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan in hopes of improving the water quality by reducing the nitrogen, protecting the wildlife, diminishing the effects of climate change and helping to preserve Long Island’s recreation and fishing industries.
“I am unveiling a ‘Surge to the Sound’—over $100 million dollars in funds we included in the bipartisan infrastructure package that will do a lot of good for America and New York and some critical things to save one of Long Island’s crown jewels—the Sound,” Schumer said during the press conference. “This $106 million guarantees funding for the next five years, while allowing us to continue to fight for more as part of regular appropriations—so this is really unprecedented support for one of Long Island’s most critical natural resources.”
The Long Island Sound watershed is comprised of 16,000 square miles and reaches several states including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Schumer explained that these funds will support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Long Island Sound program, which according to the EPA, protects “one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, with nearly nine million people living in the watershed.” The EPA states that millions of people visit the Long Island Sound on a yearly basis and it provides an outlet for both recreational and transportation services. The Sound also provides between $17 and $37 billion in ecosystem goods and services every year and is home to various types of plant and animal life.
Many Long Island dignitaries as well as several environmental groups attended the press conference including Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink, The Nature Conservancy, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Save The Sound and more.
“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Senator Schumer for his continued efforts in securing significant resources for major infrastructure enhancements,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a press release. “By helping to obtain this $106 million for Long Island Sound improvements, Senator Schumer again demonstrates his commitment to the preservation and conservation of North Hempstead’s local environment, especially our waterways. The Long Island Sound is the fundamental feature of the town’s maritime infrastructure. Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor are vital resources for local flora and fauna, as well as local business and it is imperative that they are preserved for many generations of future use. Through this funding, Senator Schumer is making it abundantly clear that our environmental and business priorities will not be ignored, and I am immensely proud to have such a progressive leader representing us in Washington.”
The Sound provides feeding, breeding, nesting and nursery areas for many diverse animal and plant life and is home to more than 120 species of fish. The ability of the Long Island Sound to support this diverse plant and animal life is dependent on the quality of its waters, habitats and living resources.
“We all know that nitrogen threatens to ruin the Long Island Sound’s fish and aquatic life, so this $106 million dollar surge will be a firewall to fend off that pollutant while we fortify the Sound to protect it from climate change,” Schumer added. “Even more, the economic impact of this watershed is into the tens-of-billions. We cannot lose it. We must invest in its sustainment and we have to keep doing it to protect the economic future of this Island and the environment.”
Improving water quality and reducing nitrogen pollution are priorities of the federal Long Island Sound Program. Schumer’s EPA program has invested more than $2.5 billion to improve wastewater treatment and the total nitrogen load to Long Island Sound. Last year, the nitrogen load was 47 million pounds less than the 1990 annual baseline discharge, a 60 percent reduction. This program is also focused on habitat protection and restoration, and has restored 350-acres of coastal habitat between 2015-19. The EPA states that their goal is to restore 1,000-acres of habitat by 2035.
Sarah Deonarine, executive director of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee stated that Manhasset Bay is a sub-watershed of the Long Island Sound and is tied to the well-being of the Sound.
“The Manhasset Bay Protection Committee is thankful for the hard work of Senator Schumer, the Long Island Sound Caucus and all involved in bringing this level of funding to the Long Island Sound Study,” Deonarine said in a press release. “We are pleased and honored that this announcement could be made on the banks of our beautiful bay.”
“The infrastructure plan championed by Majority Leader Schumer will help protect the Long Island Sound, which is one of the most productive ecosystems in America and a major economic engine for our region,” Curran said in a press release. “This funding will clean our waters, bring back abundant wildlife, boost our economy and make our communities and shores more resilient to climate change.”
For more information about the Long Island Sound Study, visit longislandsoundstudy.net.
—Additional information provided by the office of Senator Chuck Schumer