In a matter of weeks, every drop of salt water in Long Island Sound from Hell Gate Bridge out to Fishers Island could be covered by the same federal protections previously given to the Peconic Bay estuary.
The Environmental Protection Agency is in the final stages of the required review before naming the Sound’s entire New York side a no-discharge zone. The waters on the Sound’s Connecticut side, as well as the Peconic Bay estuary, are already so designated.
The Peconic Estuary no-discharge zone, which does not include Sound waters, covers all the waters from Plum Island and East Hampton on the east to the Peconic Lane bridge in Riverhead on the west. The same kind of designation for our side of Long Island Sound would bar any ship or boat large enough to carry its own toilet from dumping the contents overboard.
It’s a much welcome and needed step, but given the immense volume of water involved, it’s fair to call it a drop in the bucket.
The greatest threat to the Sound’s health and productivity comes from the land, not the sea. Rain falling over much of New England, from the Quebec border down to Newport, R.I., and Greenwich, Conn., finds its way into rivers and streams that eventually empty into the Sound. The same is true all along Long Island’s northern shore.
In theory, saving the Sound is simple: Stop spilling or dumping contaminants. How we tackle that challenge will determine whether we’re committed to environmental conservation or only environmental conversation.