SoundBites Summer 2022

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SoundBites Summer 2022 A New York Lab for the Water Quality Team Community Green Space for Fair Haven Making an Impact in the CT and NY Legislatures Closing Curt’s Corner: Celebrating All We’ve Accomplished

Seasonal Water Quality Intern Bernadette Russo analyzes samples taken from Greenwich (CT), Port Chester (NY), and Queens (NY) in our new John and Daria Barry Foundation Water Quality Lab, housed in our new Larchmont, NY office.

Creating a Watershed Plan for New York’s Hutchinson River Addressing pollution and restoring fish runs The Hutchinson River is one of the Long Island Sound region’s most polluted rivers, and yet it does not have an Environmental Protection Agency approved plan identifying pollution sources and potential measures to mitigate it. To change this, Save the Sound and Westchester County have initiated a watershed-based plan which will assess existing conditions and sources of pollution and identify a suite of recommended actions to address those issues and, ultimately, clean the waterway enough to get off New York’s list of impaired water bodies.

Funding from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund (administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) will help our team and the Westchester County Department of Planning produce a plan that identifies causes of water quality impairments, identifies potential sites for restoration, conducts a regulatory analysis to maintain the health of the watershed, and educates and engages municipalities, key stakeholders, and the public in the health of their local river. This watershed-based plan and the projects identified therein will directly

benefit all life in and along the river. In 2020, the first alewife was recorded in the Hutchinson River since the 19th century. This year, the fish run throughout the region was slow to start and the number of fish passing through our traps was low. While there may be many reasons why this year’s fish run is less robust, we know that in the Hutchinson River pollution and overdevelopment are playing a role. The Hutchinson River needs this actionable plan to give these fish a chance to return and thrive!

A New Look at a Familiar Island Plum Island scientific dive report catalogs 126 species of flora and fauna A new report documents 126 species of marine plants and animals found in a 2021 scientific dive off the coast of Plum Island, NY. “Survey of Plum Island’s Subtidal Marine Habitats” was prepared by the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) and InnerSpace Scientific Diving and sponsored by generous donors to Save the Sound. “Our scientists discovered a world of underwater biodiversity that few people get to see. Plum Island’s waters are home to a surprising diversity of life, existing mostly undisturbed beneath the surface,” said Matthew Schlesinger, chief zoologist at NYNHP. Our webinar on the dive’s findings, chock full of gorgeous underwater photos and video, is available at Top right: Lined anemones, just one of the many species thriving in the waters of Plum Island. Bottom right: Divers perform a visual inventory of species density and diversity within a quadrant in order to estimate biodiversity and population density of the underwater community. Credit: InnerSpace Scientific Diving

Donor Spotlight: Patrick Lynch

Illustrating, photographing, and preserving the Sound Longtime Save the Sound supporter Patrick Lynch is no stranger to Long Island Sound. Patrick is an artist, author, designer, and photographer who has written and illustrated over nine books and 100 professional papers over his 45-year career, including A Field Guide to Long Island Sound. “Regional field guides suit my personal view of the holistic nature of landscapes and environments,” said Patrick. “The plant a songbird perches on matters just as much as the bird. The two are linked in a web of relationships that cannot be understood if thematic field guides train you that animals and plants all exist in separable realms, without consideration for the geologic, ecological, or human history of an area.” He is also a member of a special group at Save the Sound: the Green Guardians. Green Guardians provide sustaining monthly support, securing Save the Sound’s ability to fight for a clean Long Island Sound. Patrick has been giving every month for the last five years, supporting planned action while bolstering our ability to take action on unplanned spills and leaks.

the program and now assists with setting strategic goals and raising funds to keep the Soundkeeper program going strong. “The Sound needs both effective advocacy, and a program of ongoing monitoring to be sure that our existing environmental laws are followed,” said Patrick. “The Soundkeeper is out on the water every day acting as our eyes and ears, and provides constant spot checks and ongoing water quality research.” He’s also donated his nature photography for various use over the years, as well as gifted signed copies of A Field Guide to Long Island Sound and multiple framed illustrations for use at our events and auctions. Patrick retired from Yale University in 2016 to turn his attention to photography and illustration. Now, he lives in North Haven and spends most of his time working on a field guide to the Connecticut River and freshwater environments.

Save the Sound’s role as a regional organization is critical, and the Soundkeeper only heightens their effectiveness. In the Narrows area of the Sound’s Western Basin there are two states—Connecticut and New York—involved, and the Soundkeeper can move between coastal areas in a way that would be more complex for state-based environmental monitoring.

- Patrick Lynch

While he is well-versed in the natural history of the Sound, its shores, and the creatures and ecosystems it supports, he admits he knows very little about the state and federal legal and policy processes—and that’s a huge reason he supports Save the Sound. “I support Save the Sound’s advocacy efforts in Hartford and Washington because they have the legal and policy expertise to keep the Connecticut conservation community informed on where to focus our efforts to influence political efforts,” said Patrick. Patrick’s generous support extends far past monthly donations. Patrick is also a member of our Soundkeeper Task Force, which originally supported the launch of

Above: Patrick Lynch | Right: The cover of Patrick’s Long Island Sound field guide

Protect your land, air, and water for generations to come Did you know that a planned gift can be as simple as naming Save the Sound as a beneficiary on a retirement plan account, life insurance policy, or bank account? You maintain control of the asset, can spend it if you wish, and there’s no cost to you now. Any funds remaining after your lifetime will transfer to Save the Sound to protect the environment that you love. For more information, contact Vice President of Philanthropy Alicia Sullivan at or 203-787-0646 x109.

New Home, Added Capacity, and Exciting Possibilities Introducing the John and Daria Barry Foundation Water Quality Lab More than anything else, Elena Colón remembers the pop.

efficiency when we process them at our lab,” said Director of Water Quality Peter Linderoth.

portion that is not always a main focus for this type of effort.”

She can’t recall much else from her AP Chemistry final; Elena was pretty focused on the test, which involved collecting a gas and causing a reaction. But there definitely was a pop, and she and her classmates found it the most exciting part of the final. She still smiles at the thought of it.

Much of that processing will be managed by Elena, who is thrilled to be hands-on in a lab setting again.

Another down-the-road opportunity could be DNA microbial source tracking for bacteria monitoring. Right now, the water quality monitoring identifies areas with high levels of fecal indicator bacteria, but cannot determine the source of contamination.

Now the Environmental Analyst II at Save the Sound, Elena is back in her happy place: a lab. A brand-new happy place, actually: the John and Daria Barry Foundation Water Quality Laboratory, housed in our new office space in Larchmont, New York. After an April ribbon-cutting, the team got right to work. This summer, they’re running tests on water samples from two annual programs. There’s the seasonal Fecal Indicator Bacteria monitoring in which we measure levels of E. coli and other bacteria from more than 60 sites in western Long Island Sound. And, for the first time, the chlorophyll-a samples from the Unified Water Study will be processed in-house. Nitrogen and phosphorous samples will be phased in for 2023. “Rather than send thousands of samples out to external labs, we’ll have more control and

Our whole goal is to produce data, and then take action on it. - Elena Colón

“The exciting thing is now with the new lab, there’s room to expand—to do other types of analyses, including on coastal acidification,” Elena said. “We could finally produce that data in a meaningful way.” Peter sees several growth opportunities enabled by this new state-of-the-art lab, including the potential to monitor harmful algal blooms, an emerging threat to our waters. “They become more prevalent as waters warm and excess nitrogen enters Long Island Sound,” Peter said. “We will be positioned to collect and process samples from all reaches of the Sound and monitor the westernmost

“It’s a public health issue,” he said. “We are poised to expand the lab and do DNA processing to see if there is human waste in the water that can make people sick.” The expanded lab also provides for expanded education. This past spring, Water Quality Advocate Sam Marquand launched a program with the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon. Nine students began their training

Covering More Ground Around the Sound An update from your Long Island Soundkeeper Earlier this summer, we added Emma DeLoughry to our team as our new Soundkeeper Associate, working with Soundkeeper Bill Lucey. Emma will be stationed out of Black Rock Harbor in Bridgeport and will patrol New York City and Fairfield and Westchester counties. It’s difficult for one boat to respond to everything going on across the Sound. Emma’s arrival allows us to respond to more incidents Sound-wide. The greater our onthe-water presence, the more opportunities

Elena supervises our seasonal water quality interns Bernadette Russo and Nathaniel Goetz as they analyze samples from Port Chester and Queens, NY.

in our lab, preparing to collect data from a stretch of the Hutchinson River.

for interaction with the public, which grows our network of clean water watchdogs. Adding Emma also frees up time for more exploratory water sampling. We can proactively check on areas that had poor grades on the 2021 Long Island Sound Beach Report, ones that tend to have more violations on the EPA ECHO (Enforcement and Compliance History Online) database, and the ones we know as problem areas from past experience.

Meet the Faces Behind the Lab The scientists defending your clean water Elena Colón, Environmental Analyst II

Peter Linderoth, Director of Water Quality

“I showed them the Long Island Sound Report Card, and they can very clearly see, ‘Hey, the whole wide Sound is over here and we’re down here in the red area, where we have significant water quality issues,’” said Sam. “It’s great for them to see who we are, what we do, and how we can work together to start tackling some of the environmental injustices affecting their community.” Thanks to the incredible generosity of The John and Daria Barry Foundation, this Water Quality Laboratory brings immense opportunity to expand our work and better serve New York and the entire Long Island Sound community.

Left: Clean Water Advocate Sam Marquand demonstrates some of our equipment to the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, preparing them to take samples along the Hutchinson River.

Favorite part of the job: “One thing that struck me from the moment I started here was how passionate the Sound community was. They had this visceral love for this estuary. It’s been almost five years now and I’ve been able to form my own memories and connection to Long Island Sound.”

Favorite part of the job: “I get to punch the clock and spend my time working on understanding, protecting, and restoring Long Island Sound—an estuary that has been near and dear to me my entire life.”

Sam Marquand, Clean Water Advocate Favorite part of the job: “The diversity of projects and teams I’m involved in, from water quality sampling in communities experiencing environmental injustice to pollution reporting and enforcement to rain garden installations. The highlight is a great group of teenagers from Mount Vernon. It’s always most rewarding to work with a new generation who are motivated to push for change.”

Making an Impact in the State Legislatures Our team scored wins in the 2022 CT and NY Legislative Sessions—from climate and living shorelines to environmental funding.

What You Won in Connecticut Cleaner Transportation, Zero Carbon Electricity, & Expanded Solar Programs Together we won passage of bills that will help get Connecticut back on track to meeting its climate goals. Connecticut’s transportation legislation will increase public and private adoption of electric vehicles; expand access to EV charging infrastructure; and authorize adoption of California’s clean truck standards. The legislature also expanded the state’s shared solar and commercial solar programs and mandated that all of the state’s electricity come from zero-carbon resources by 2040. Keeping Toxins Out of Our Environment You helped ban non-agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos and established a required training to protect the environment from winter road salt.

A Community Green Space for Fair Haven Before and After: Haven and Exchange Streets Our Ecological Restoration team and construction partners converted an unused roadway into a community green space at Haven and Exchange Streets in Fair Haven, CT. Students, teachers, and families of the Cold Spring and John S. Martinez Schools, as well as other community members, planted native vegetation in bioretention areas, helping stormwater from the neighboring streets flow through a natural filter before reaching the Mill River, diverting up to 2.3 million gallons from New Haven’s combined sewer system annually. This project was made possible thanks to funding from the Connecticut Department

of Energy and Environmental Protection; The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Sarah M. Ferguson Fund; The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund; the Dorr Foundation; and Partners for Places, a joint effort by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. This project also received critical support from Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal; the Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) Outdoor Places Grant Program; and landscape architecture firm Reed Hildebrand. The project is still in progress, and the park is expected to be ready for this fall season.


Restoring Marine Life and Habits Four species of forage fish are now more protected. In the budget, we successfully pushed for a new office for aquatic invasive species control and beneficial reuse of dredge material to restore dunes, beaches, and marshes.

What You Won in New York We worked with State Senator Shelley Mayer and Assemblyman Steve Otis on a bill that prioritizes nature-based solutions to stabilize tidal shorelines and protect upland areas. We also advocated for a flood disclosure bill and a stormwater bill that would incentivize landowners to work towards water quality improvements and flood reduction. In addition, the legislature passed a budget containing a record $400 million investment in the Environmental Protection Fund, $500 million for clean water infrastructure, and strengthened protection of freshwater wetlands. The budget also includes a historic $4.2 billion bond act to improve climate resiliency, protect clean water, and conserve open space. Keep an eye out for the referendum on your ballots this November! See our full post-session wrap-ups at www. and www.

In Progress

Closing Curt’s Corner: Celebrating All We’ve Accomplished Together Looking back and envisioning the future I’m excited to share that at the end of September, our Vice President of Programs Leah Schmalz will be succeeding me as President of Save the Sound. Leah has been the driving force cleaning our waters, restoring our rivers and coast, protecting endangered lands, and fighting climate change. You deserve her energetic and visionary leadership. I’ll stay on very part-time to assist her in implementing a successful strategic plan campaign. I’m so proud of all we accomplished together during my nearly three-decade career as a Save the Sound attorney, program director, and president. Big accomplishments—like the permanent protection of over 15,000 acres of endangered water company lands in Fairfield County, CT, stopping Broadwater, and

passing the Global Warming Solutions Act. We brought the Sound back from nearcertain death. As the lead nonprofit working with our Environmental Protection Agency and the states of New York and Connecticut, we have spurred an upgrade of over 40 sewage treatment plants all around the Sound and slashed nitrogen pollution. Eight years ago, you stepped up to support opening our Westchester office, allowing us to focus on improving water quality in the rivers and bays that need it most. You fueled a model program that this summer will measure water pollution in 44 bays and harbors on Long Island, New York City, Westchester, and Connecticut. We are finding and fixing pollution problems from the Hutchinson River to Mystic.

The 1,000-acre Preserve forest is now protected. Vernal pools are filled with salamanders, not plowed over for golf courses. Five dams are now removed, a dozen rivers restored. The list goes on—and we did it all together. The coming decades will be daunting. Climate change is bringing unprecedented flooding and associated pollution threats to our region, making nature-based solutions essential to our very survival. Plum Island and thousands of acres of forest land are facing development. With your support, Leah and the team will continue our legacy of success. It has been an honor to serve as your president for the last five years, and I am honored to be passing the baton to Leah. There are so many exciting things ahead.

Looking to the Future: Protect. Restore. Transform. Leah Schmalz reflects on the Strategic Plan and where it’ll take us Over my 20 years at Save the Sound I’ve seen our organization bloom into a thriving, committed community that catalyzes change across the region. As we look to our next chapter, we will keep building on our well-established approach of uniting science-driven advocacy, legal expertise, on-the-ground construction, and community engagement to protect the Sound’s waters, restore its rivers, and transform the communities that we call home. Key elements of our new strategic plan include:

Protect: •

Over 12,000 acres of endangered forest, reservoir, marsh, and shore lands throughout the region;

Fifteen bays and harbors from raw sewage by expanding our “data to action” monitoring and fixing program;

Our bi-state coast by deploying an expanded Soundkeeper team to bust polluters.

Restore: •

At least six river systems by implementing projects to revive historic fish runs, renew ecological function, and create safer, more resilient communities; Twelve shoreline sites through naturebased solutions that provide homes for wildlife and safeguard neighborhoods from storms and flooding.

Transform: •

Urban centers by re-engineering the equivalent of 160 city blocks with rain gardens to absorb pollution and flood waters; Our region’s climate policy and air quality by adding 4500 MW of renewable energy and storage to our region and replacing fossil fuel vehicles with clean electric ones and quality public transit for all people; Political will by standing with and supporting partners in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations

to clean our waters and drive climate action, holding public officials and private interests to account. Together, we can realize bold outcomes for clean waters, resilient communities, and climate action through policy leadership and on-the-ground projects that transform our neighborhoods and ecosystem. Together we can be like the mountain. We can change systems, protect the vulnerable from oncoming storms, and restore starving habitats. Together we can act like the forest. We can grow towards this grand vision, persevere with complex strategies, and root ourselves in actions for a vibrant future. I can say this future is possible because, together, we have a proven track record. Whether it is at the micro-scale of partnering with one homeowner to stop pollution with a single rain garden or at the macro-scale of taking on Shell Oil to protect our climate and Long Island Sound, we are in it for the long haul—every single day.

Calling All Cleanup Captains Help us make this cleanup season a success We are gearing up for the 2022 Connecticut Cleanup season! We are extremely grateful for the volunteers who show up every year to clean up our parks, rivers, and beaches. The cleanup movement is growing and we need your help to keep the momentum going. Now is the time to take on a leadership role in organizing these events as a cleanup captain! You are the reason we can continue to remove thousands of pounds of trash from our coastlines and parks every year. We advocate for youth leadership and highly encourage high school and college students to apply.

Remove thousands of pounds of trash from your communities. Join our dedicated team of Cleanup Captains.

Get in touch with Annalisa Paltauf at to express interest by July 31!

Published by Save the Sound. All rights reserved. • 900 Chapel St, Suite 2202, New Haven, CT 06510 • 1385 Boston Post Road, 2nd Floor, Larchmont, NY 10538 • 203-787-0646 • Articles in this newsletter may be reprinted with permission. • Newsletter team: Karina Krul, Emily Green, Alicia Sullivan, Michelle LeMere, Laura McMillan.

Making an Impact in the State Legislatures Closing Curt’s Corner: Celebrating All We’ve Done A Community Green Space for Fair Haven A ‘New’ York Lab for the Water Quality Team

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