Fortunately, scientists and engineers have developed proven solutions for upgrading our wastewater systems and changing the way we use fertilizers. If we use these solutions, we can help restore and sustain clean, healthy waters in the Sound that we depend upon for our livelihoods and well-being.
Communities around Long Island Sound are not alone in facing these problems or in seeking solutions to address them. In the 1970’s, Florida’s Tampa Bay experienced fish kills, dead zones and noxious seaweeds that made the estuary unhealthy and unwelcoming. Responding to public outcry in 1996, state and local governments, business owners and residents set a goal to restore seagrass meadows . Working together over the next 20 years, Tampa Bay stakeholders achieved sweeping recovery by curbing nitrogen pollution through wastewater and fertilizer management and reestablishing healthy conditions seagrasses need to survive and thrive.
And we know from experience in Groton, Conn., recovery is possible in Long Island Sound too. Until 1987, more than 3 million gallons of sewage per day was discharged into Mumford Cove from an old Navy housing facility, creating water conditions described as “pea soup” green. Following years of appeals after a 1971 lawsuit brought by the Mumford Cove Association, the Town of Groton redirected the wastewater away from Mumford Cove – restoring clean coastal water and enabling natural seagrass recovery.