Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 20 April 2012 00:00
Senator Gillibrand said, “We need more federal investment in the LI Sound.” It is a natural treasure for the 8 million people living along its waters. “As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am committed to taking the steps needed to restore the sound and promote environmental protection and economic development for generations.”
Rep. Israel added that the Sound is critical to the regional economy, the environment and the community. “If we don’t protect and restore the Sound, a $9 billion economic engine, we will damage industries and ultimately lose jobs.” For that reason he is working to preserve, protect and restore the Sound. He is co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, and is committed to supporting the restoration of the sound through 2016.
Congress’ support for Sound has been inconsistent over the past decade and a steady stream of funding is necessary to plan for this $9 billion economic engine that is a job creator, said Congressman Israel. The Sound aids in the quality of life, economic security and maintains property values with a stable tax base. During the Bush administration in 2008, the Sound received $480,000 in funding. “If you can buy a house on Long Island Sound for that, let me know,” said Mr. Israel.
In 2010 the Sound received $7 million. That was the high tide of funding, but the Obama administration has cut that to $2.9 million. “We have to stop this roller coaster approach,” said Mr. Israel. The goal of the new legislation is for $40 million a year from now to 2016.
Ms. Gillibrand asked for some local success stories from those attending on how they used funding to their advantage, to help them sell their legislation to their colleagues.
Carol DePaoli of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor said that last year was a great success. They have recertified 2,500 acres of the waters of Hempstead Harbor for shellfish harvesting. “At one time Hempstead Harbor provided clams and oysters for New York City and the state,” she said.
The Frank M. Flower & Sons, Inc. shellfishers provided seedling clams and oysters, grown in their Bayville hatchery for the Hempstead Harbor rehabilitation project.
Patricia Aitken, executive director of Friends of the Bay (FOB) congratulated Ms. DePaoli, adding that currently Oyster Bay provides 90 percent of the oysters for New York State and a good percentage of its clams. She said to Ms. DePaoli, “I’d love to see you give us a run for the money.”
Ms. Aitken added a success story, saying that the data FOB has created through its water quality monitoring project provided the figures that resulted in the cleanup of wastewater getting into Mill Creek from The Birches in Locust Valley. That problem was solved when the area hooked up with the Glen Cove Sewage Treatment plant thanks to funds from Nassau County, the Town of Oyster Bay and the state.
Congressman Israel showing he knows Oyster Bay, said that in his office he has a picture of Theodore Roosevelt rowing on Oyster Bay Harbor. He commented on the vision of TR, the first American president who understood the importance of the environment, conservation, and created the national parks system.
Ms. Aitken said, “If you look across the bay you will see Sagamore Hill, where TR negotiated the Russo- Japanese Peace Treaty.”
Solving stormwater runoff is one of the aims of the proposed funding. One of the speakers commented on the issue of stormwater runoff and said that New York City and Westchester are big culprits in the issue. Long Island, on the other hand, is doing well as a result of the Cleanwater Coalition and the work municipalities are doing to clean up sewage treatment plants. Creating that infrastructure is critical and generates jobs. Helping create the needed infrastructure is part of the proposed funding request.
Eric Swenson, Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor Watershed Protection committee chair and Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee executive director, said that Crescent Beach in Glen Cove has been closed since 2009, due to high coliform counts. He said the Glen Cove Sewage Plant has excess capacity and can tie in those few remaining homes in that area, to let the beach re-open.
Mr. Israel said they want to help the sewage treatmant plants and that they are an important infrastructure element for the health of Long Island Sound.
New York State Senator Carl Marcellino said he recently visited an Atlantic City sewage treatment plant located in the middle of the casino area. It is run by the power generated by three of five windmills, and has solar panels over their parking lot generating electricity. Two of the fans are used by the owner/operator to generate electricity which he sells to the city. The taxpayers get cheap sewage treatment, and the owner makes money on the grid. “We can do that here, to save money and generate power and help with sewer plants. Look at the smaller niche operations that can be used to run at a lower cost,” the senator said.
He added that Northport, part of his district, recently received a grant to upgrade their sewage plant.
FYI: Long Island Sound is a 1,320 square mile estuary designated as an Estuary of National Significance that is being threatened by pollution and habitat loss. Its local economic contribution from sport and commercial fishing, boating, recreation and tourism is estimated to produce $9 billion annually. However, decades of overdevelopment, pollution, dumping of dredged materials, and releases of untreated sewage have severely hurt the water quality.
The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act extends two complementary water quality and shore restoration program authorizations through 2016 at $325 million over the next five years. Funding authorized under this legislation will go toward cleanup, water quality, shoreline preservation and other critical environmental and conservation needs of the Sound.
Congress has previously authorized funding to support Long Island Sound under the Long Island Sound Restoration Act (passed in 2000 & 2005) and the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act (passed in 2006). The Long Island Sound Stewardship and Restoration Act streamlines the authorization process and dedicates funds to a Long Island Sound Program so funding can be put toward the most critical issues. The legislation will also improve coordination among federal, state and local agencies and require regular reporting on the use of the funds.
More than 10 local and state environmental organizations and advocacy groups attended the roundtable discussion. In addition to funding for the Sound, participants also discussed funding levels for local water and sewer infrastructure, invasive species and water quality.