NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — A major infrastructure bill that passed out of the U.S. Senate this week includes $106 million to benefit Long Island sound revitalization. But the measure needs to pass the House to become reality.
Still, those who have worked to protect the Sound talked about what might be.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said this infrastructure package, which primarily invests in roads, bridges, and rail, would also do wonders for the country's largest estuary, positively impacting the 23 million people that live within 50 miles of the Long Island Sound.
Those attending a Thursday morning press conference on a New Haven Harbor pier, said among the big benefits of the $106 million investment in the will be water quality "that we are seeing from outdated infrastructure," said Holly Drinkuth, of the Long Island Sound Citizen’s Advisory Committee. "We will be able to really clean up more of the nitrogen pollution and bacteria pollution."
Advocates of the Sound say the time has run out when it comes to climate change, sea-level rise, and stormwater surge.
"We’re going to be doing things like habitat restorations, restoring eelgrass beds, coastal marshes, oyster reefs," said Bill Lucey, the Long Island Soundkeeper. "We need to manage stormwater. We need to put in properly sized culverts, so we don’t have localized flooding."
"One of the big investments that we’re going to be able to make in this is natural resources," said Robert LaFrance of the
Connecticut Audubon Society. "The money that becomes available hopefully will be able to be matched by state dollars."
Through continued efforts of organizations like Save the Sound, whales and dolphins are among mammals that have returned to these waters.
"This Long Island Sound is so crucial to our way of life here in Connecticut, to our economy, to our recreational opportunities," said Patrick Comins, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Audubon Society.
The funding would help address polluted stormwater runoff as one of the major impediments that impacts Long Island Sound's water quality.
Then, there's the issue of New York.
"New York has been polluting our Sound with its excessive, irresponsible sewage that is coming into Long Island sound every single day," said Blumenthal., who noted this would need to be addressed in a separate financial package.
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