You may have heard that Save the Sound is ramping up the Long Island Sound advocacy work it does in New York and, specifically, in Westchester County. Our decision comes at the right time, because conditions on the Sound last summer were surprisingly bad.
In roughly 18 square miles of the Sound off Larchmont, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle there was almost no dissolved oxygen in the bottom waters in mid-August. And conditions were almost as bad off Rye and Port Chester.
Dissolved oxygen is one of the key measures of a healthy estuary. When levels drop close to zero, it means the usually abundant bluefish, striped bass, fluke, blackfish and various crustaceans can’t survive.
What makes this unsettling to us is that for the previous several years, conditions seemed to have stabilized and perhaps even improved. August 2012 marked the first time since 2008 that dissolved oxygen fell below one part per thousand; and the 288 square miles of the Sound affected by hypoxia (that is, with dissolved oxygen below about three parts per thousand) was the fourth largest recorded area since water quality monitoring started in 1991.
There has been no dispute over the past two decades that hypoxia is the chief threat to Long Island Sound’s ecosystem. Sewage treatment plant operators in New York are legally bound to improve their facilities to help end the hypoxia problem, and we will be focusing our attention over the coming months on making sure they are on schedule.
You’ll be hearing more from us as time goes on. Over the next week or so I will be preparing a detailed review of water quality conditions last summer as well as an examination of why conditions were so bad.
We’d also like to hear from you. Contact me at Tandersen@savethesound.org to join Save the Sound’s email list or to let me know what Sound issues are on your mind.
We believe we are off to a good start. We have an enthusiastic group of supporters who have allowed us to build on a foundation provided by the generosity of the Westchester Community Foundation. We look forward to working to protect and restore Long Island Sound, now and for future generations.