The Day – $ 100 million in federal funds to restore and preserve Long Island Sound

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New London – With the passage of a bipartite $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure deal last week, $ 106 million has been allocated to restore and preserve the Long Island Sound.

Representative Joe Courtney, District D-2, Senator Richard Blumenthal, New London Mayor Michael Passero and environmental stakeholders held a press conference Tuesday at Ocean Beach Park to discuss the projects the money will fund.

The $ 106 million will be added to the Long Island Sound Geographic Program, which supports the Long Island Sound Study. The study is funded by federal and state dollars through a joint effort of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Connecticut Sea Grant and New York Sea Grant, and it focuses on improving water quality and the restoration of the ecological balance of the strait, among other initiatives.

“Today we’re here to talk about Long Island Sound, which is going to receive $ 106 million for a stormwater technology infrastructure upgrade to ensure that the overflows that occur with them. storms are not going to litter Long Island Sound and degrade water quality. and the environment, ”Courtney said Tuesday. He thanked Connecticut U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro of District D-3, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, for making sure the Strait States would guarantee funding.

Intended to be spent over five years, the $ 106 million is in addition to the annual federal allocations, including $ 40 million for the next fiscal year. The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will manage Connecticut’s share of the money, although it has not yet been determined how much of the funding the state will receive. Organizations and municipalities will be able to apply for grants.

Blumenthal said more than $ 100 million is “the largest investment in Long Island Sound in our history.”

“It’s not just about money. This is the federal commitment. It’s recognition that the entire nation has an interest in Long Island Sound, ”Blumenthal said Tuesday. “It is also a question of climate change. We’re going to see more flooding, more erosion. The purpose of this $ 106 million is not only to protect wildlife and the Long Island Strait, but also to prevent flooding and erosion. What was once a 100 year storm is now once every five years or maybe once a year. “

Pointing to a nearby cove, Passero said the money for the strait will have a local impact. “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Alewife Cove, which is here to the west, which is a very, very important estuary that feeds the strait and really needs the money to help us dredge it.”

Long island Soundkeeper Bill Lucey said that although the state and its environmental groups have had to work with limited budgets for a long time, funding for the infrastructure deal is “real” and “money in the long run.”

“We want to have hundreds of acres of restored coastal wetlands, eelgrass beds. Everyone wants to enjoy abundant, clean and healthy local seafood. Nobody wants to swim on beaches littered with sewage, ”said Lucey.

“We are going to build miles of dunes and living shores,” he added. “We’re going to restore coastal wetlands. And we’re going to protect wildlife as well as our homes and businesses with that kind of funding. We need state-of-the-art wastewater treatment systems so that while we perform all this work to clean up the Sound, we don’t put the pollution back in.

Blumenthal said New York must also step up efforts to preserve the Sound.

“You can’t keep Long Island Sound clean if you don’t treat the sewage, and it’s not just Connecticut, it’s New York, too. I’ll be very blunt: New York is the environmental scourge of our existence. Its wastewater treatment plants are dilapidated, degraded and inefficient, and we are the victims, ”said Blumenthal.

“No one should think that this $ 106 million is going to solve this problem for every city along the Connecticut coast or Long Island for that matter,” he added. “It’s going to require additional investment from state and localities. The reason we’re here today is because New London has done it right and is at the forefront of try to keep the Sound clean.

New London remains the only municipality in Connecticut with a stormwater authority. Designed as a way to deal with the constant flooding on Bank Street, the Utilities Department, following the creation of the Stormwater Authority in 2019, took over the operation of the Public Works Department’s pumping station and mapped the city’s entire stormwater system. and investigate the causes of flooding in parts of the city.

Governor Ned Lamont signed earlier this year Public law 21-115, “An Act respecting adaptation to climate change”, which allows municipalities to establish a stormwater board.

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