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New York's Efforts to Save the Sound Lacking

RYE, N.Y. - According to a report published by Save the Sound, a Connecticut based environmental group, Connecticut and New York are not doing an adequate job of keeping the Long Island Sound clean.

In it's first ever "State of the Sound" report, Connecticut and New York were given a joint overall grade of a C+, and received below average marks in Stormwater Runoff (C-), Oxygen Levels (C-), Stewardship (C-) and Raw Sewage (D+).

"From the looks of this report, the region is striving for mediocrity when it comes to the health of Long Island Sound. However, we know that is not the outcome residents of Connecticut and New York expect or want," said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound.

Although the report graded the efforts of the two states in conjunction, it did identify discrepancies in certain categories between the two. Unfortunately for Westchester, the report revealed that New York's efforts were lagging behind its neighbors.

While the two states received an "A" grade in the report's Coastal Habitat section, the report identified New York's efforts as inadequate.

"(While) Connecticut has restored substantial habitat in recent years, New York has not kept pace," the report stated. "New York can improve its restoration program by streamlining the permitting process and focusing restoration efforts on high elevation marshes."

The report also stated that New York's migratory habitat also needs improvement. According to the report, only 13 percent of New York's historic migratory habitat is open in contrast to Connecticut's 47 percent.

The report briefly mentions Westchester County in the section regarding low oxygen levels. While Connecticut has recently reinvested in Clean Water Funding, New York and Westchester have not renewed their funding despite the "urgent need" to do so.

While the city has initiated construction on clean water projects, Westchester has entered into a consent order with the Department of Environmental Conservation that will delay significant reduction in nitrogen levels until 2017.

The report does add that Westchester is obligated to "take significant steps" over the next eight years towards reducing nitrogen discharges.

“The Sound is our heritage and our legacy," Schmalz said. "If we want to protect our wildlife, tourism and our way of life for future generations, we must act today."

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