A research boat called the Spirit of the Sound glides away from the pier at Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium and across Norwalk Harbor. Boats like this one are about to start checking water quality at bays and harbors ranging from Queens to Rhode Island.
They’re part of a new ongoing water study led by the bi-state environmental group Save the Sound.
The group produces a report card every two years that measures the health of the Long Island Sound. But that report card covers open water. The group wanted a better sense of what’s going on in bays and harbors.
“Many of them are fed by rivers and streams, which have a bigger influence, so you have a bunch of input coming in from the land by the rivers and streams of different pollutants,” says Tracy Brown, director of Save the Sound’s Western Sound Programs.
One of the most worrying is nitrogen, which comes from wastewater and lawn fertilizer and settles into harbors and bays. Nitrogen can cause algae blooms and fish die-offs. Brown says one of the study’s main goals is to protect sea life in the Sound.
“It’s not about beaches. It’s not about, if I swim will I get sick? It’s really, do the creatures who swim here 24/7 have a comfortable swimming day, or are they having a hard time?”
Brown says Save the Sound will start sharing their ongoing findings with local organizations as soon as possible, and they’ll release a report card for the Sound’s bays and harbors in 2020.