Grading the bays

The New London Day 10/12/2020

Save the Sound, a nonprofit that in various forms has made waves about the health of Long Island Sound waters for decades, recently issued its 2020 report card on the state of the Sound. This time, however, in addition to reporting on the main body of the Sound, the study includes results of water sampling done by local conservationists on 50 bays, harbors and mouths of rivers.

Each of those places is a mingling place for fresh and salt waters. Each is also part of a valued local waterfront encompassing “the stream you fish in, the forest you hike, and the islands you sail around,” as Save the Sound phrases it. For 22 local organizations such as CUSH — Clean Up Sounds and Harbors — to do the local monitoring under an EPA program is a promising way to get more communities invested in having the cleanest possible waters close to home.

Overall, eastern Long island Sound scored a grade of A+, with some of the credit going to Mother Nature — tidal flushing — and a far lower population density than the western Sound, which scored lower. With higher density typically comes more nitrogen runoff from fertilizers, leading to low oxygen levels and fish kills. And the report notes that as waters warm, nitrogen will create even more harmful effects.

Now, however, local volunteers have become local experts of sorts in the quality of the water lapping against our home shores. As they continue to advocate for sensible water conservation practices, they can appeal to local pride: Keep Mystic Harbor’s grade of A and raise the inner Niantic River’s grade of B.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.