Suozzi Applauds Release of Save the Sound’s Long Island Sound Beach Report
On Friday, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens), along with New York State Senator Jim Gaughran, Nassau County Executive Laura, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and representatives from local environmental groups joined the nonprofit organization Save the Sound at a press conference where the group released the results of its “Long Island Sound Beach Report.”
The report highlighted the “Top 20” beaches on Long Island Sound based on water quality, and, for the first time, presented comprehensive grades for 204 swimming beaches in New York and Connecticut. The report detailed safe swimming conditions at numerous beaches but noted that continued rain-triggered water pollution is a harbinger of future challenges. Save the Sound also unveiled an upgraded website dedicated to providing public access to over a decade of water quality data for Sound beaches, at www.SoundHealthExplorer.org.
“I grew up swimming and fishing in the Long Island Sound. Now our children are doing the same. The Long Island Sound is our ‘national park’ and I will continue to push for federal dollars to see that it is protected and improved,” said Congressman Suozzi. “We have made incredible strides over the last 20 years. We cannot let our guard down and we must continue to reduce nitrogen runoff and improve stormwater management and sewage infrastructure. Working together with local, town, county, and state officials as well as local environmental groups, we can preserve, protect, and improve the Sound for generations to come.”
As Co-Chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, Suozzi was able to help secure $21 million to preserve and protect the Sound through House appropriations this year. This is an increase of $17 million since he was elected to Congress in 2016.
Save the Sound’s LIS Beach Report offered good news for swimmers and beachgoers, highlighting dozens of beaches on both sides of the Sound that consistently earn top grades for water quality. On average, Long Island Sound beaches met safe-swimming criteria 93.3% of the time in 2016-2018.
However, the report, which analyzed trends from the most recent three years tested (2016-2018), also revealed some troubling findings. For the three summers covered in the report, the overall failure rate of beach samples more than doubled in wet weather—jumping from 5.4% in dry weather to 11.1% following wet weather. As a result of climate change, the Sound region is expected to experience steadily increasing rainfall over the coming decades which means more needs to be done to improve coastal stormwater management and sewage infrastructure.
High rainfall impacts water quality at beaches in a number of ways, including by diverting untreated sewage directly into the Sound in locations which use combined stormwater and sewer pipes, or those locations with decaying and damaged pipes. With increased rainfall levels leading to added beach closure days, even in the sunny days following heavy rain, Save the Sound is urging communities to invest in improved sewer treatment and handling capacity, as well as to increase testing at impacted beaches. Save the Sound has successfully lobbied for state funding in both Connecticut and New York to assist municipalities in upgrading their wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
Tracy Brown, director of Save the Sound, commented, “Long Island Sound beaches are an integral part of the lives of millions of beachgoers each year. We’re pleased to see so many beaches testing water quality regularly and offering public access for swimmers and beachgoers to enjoy the Sound safely. At the same time, we know that beaches practically next door to one another can have vastly different water quality, especially if local stormwater and sewer lines are combined or are in poor condition. Our upgraded SoundHealthExplorer.org website is an extremely useful tool for regulators, local leaders, and residents to identify water quality trends at individual beaches.”
The complete Long Island Sound Beach Report can be accessed at www.savethesound.org/beach-report