Clean Up Stonington Harbor, Inc (CUSH)
In 2008, a citizen organization Clean Up Stonington Harbors (CUSH) enhanced its active membership campaign, lecture series and start up citizen science water monitoring program. Information that includes a water monitoring program is posted at www.cushinc.org . The
organization’s geographic focus includes all coastal harbors adjacent to the Town of Stonington, from Mystic River to Pawcatuck River, including waters off Barn Island. CUSH has two primary objectives: 1) Identify sources of nonpoint pollution to restore a healthy aquatic environment
through water testing; and 2) reduce pollution by changing resident’s habits through an educational process. In addition to these objectives, the group provided rapid citizen feedback and worked with local officials to improve harbor regulation and water quality management. CUSH members have set two goals – to reopen shellfish beds in Rhode Island, and to assist CT
DEP and RI DEM to establish bacteria TMDLs as required by the federal Clean Water Act. Twelve volunteers focused on 6 monitoring sites in 2008. Harbor Friendly Yards planning began 71 in 2008. A four‐page Yard Care Guide for the Coastal Homeowner was printed and distributed
in 24,000 newspapers going to all residents of Mystic, Stonington and Pawcatuck, with grant funding from the Town of Stonington (now online at
https://cushinc.org/id141.htmhttps://cushinc.org/id141.htm). A new Eco‐Boating brochure has been distributed as well (now on line at
https://e5c7d4.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/CUSH_boatersbro_2010.pdf). In 2009, CUSH joined forces with area volunteer organizations Save The Bay, Inc. and also Southeast Connecticut River Estuary Stewardship (SE*CRES) in an effective collaboration. Water quality study results for the Stonington Harbor area indicated chlorophyll had good seasonal averages at most sites and fair
at 3 sites, fecal coliform bacteria exceedance of the shellfish limit consistency in the two long cover and occasionally at all other sites, and Enterococci exceedance of the swimming limit in both long coves. Nutrients (DIN, TN, TP) and some metals (Cu, Zn) were monitored as well.
Plans for the 2010 water quality monitoring season will include continued monitoring with focus on the long coves, expand salinity data collection, and explore tidal cycles in the river and the coves to help distinguish overland flow from ocean contributions. Half of the CUSH (Clean
Up Stonington Harbors) mission is educating residents about ways to improve local waters. During the summer of 2009, Gary Poe and his Tide Pool Cruiser joined forces with CUSH at four events aimed at local families. School adventures start during an assembly where urban runoff
and stormwater pollution are explained. Hands‐on demonstrations illustrate sources of pollution and how it can be stopped. Students then go outdoors to the TidePool Cruiser itself for a “worms’ eye view” of a storm drain full of trash, pesticides, oil, fertilizer, and additional pollutants on their way to be deposited, untreated, into streams, rivers, coastal harbors, and the ocean. Windows‐On‐Our‐Waters (www.windowsonourwaters.org) is a 501(c) (3) non‐profit educational organization.
Nitrogen Fertilizer Reduction in Coastal Lawns Project
The University of Connecticut Turf Management Program initiated this project through a training and education approach in 2008. The main objective is to establish demonstration stations showing alternative, lower input turf species and best management nitrogen fertilizer practices. Five sites were initially chosen, though none in the Thames River or the Southeast Coastal basins. However, the Hole‐in‐Wall Beach in Niantic was the site of an innovative stormwater management project for a 93‐parking space lot with high public visibility. UConn donated fescue seed to be planted in the area surrounding the various stormwater practices.
UConn also established a 350 square foot demonstration site that utilized seven different lower input turf species. UConn staff conducted targeted training for municipal/turf industry professionals during the 2008 UConn Turf Field Day. Pre‐ and post‐workshop surveys were conducted to ascertain the knowledge level and opportunities to modify turf management practices that reduce nutrient runoff potential to receiving waterbodies and Long Island Sound. Training was provided in web‐based and in print media formats, aimed at changing fall fertilizer practices, broadening awareness of alternative inputs and use of slow‐release fertilizers. The project has expanded through a Year 2 Section 319 funding assistance grant to UConn. In 2009, the first phase was completed and report submitted to DEP. Eight demonstration sites were established with fine and tall fescues. Approximately 20 landscape professionals and municipal 72 workers were trained through a series of workshops over the two year period. Pre‐ and post surveys reveal the majority of the 20 individuals will change their nitrogen fertilization practices based on the workshop information. This should result in less nitrogen and phosphorus
applications, decreasing threats to water quality. There are very good prospects for adoption of revised recommendations. In addition to web‐based and print media formats, a video/DVD, instructional pamphlets and handouts were produced and distributed. Continuing education efforts are planned through UConn’s Cooperative Extension System, Master Gardener Program and Residential Water Quality Group. A second Biennial Turfgrass Field Day will be held at UConn Storrs campus in July 2010. The focus of the event will be guided tours of current research studies in the