Help Needed For LI Sound

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As many readers may already know, George Martin, Manhasset Bay Shipyard, and his wife Pia Haselbach lost their home, their four cats and all their possessions in a devastating fire aboard their houseboat.  George and Pia are also very involved in volunteer activities for CancerCare and the Lutheran Church of Our Savior. The church has found temporary housing for them and established a fun

Junior sailors from local yacht clubs participate in an educational program provided by Save The Sound, where they learned all about Long Island Sound and how to protect it and our bay.
Junior sailors from local yacht clubs participate in an educational program provided by Save The Sound, where they learned all about Long Island Sound and how to protect it and our bay.

d to help them. If you would like to personally contribute to the fund, you can send your donation, payable to the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, to: Lutheran Church of our Savior, 12 Franklin Avenue.  Indicate on the check the donation is for George and Pia.  Alternatively, donors can contribute at this website: http://www.gofundme.com/helpforhouseboats. 

 

In addition, there is a fundraiser for the families burned out of their houseboats on Friday, Feb. 27 from 7-12 midnight at the Polish Hall (5 Pulaski Place in Port). There will be great music featuring Alter Ego, Ricky Roche, John Ford of The Strawbs, “Killer” Joe Ferraro, Mike Nugent, Mark Mancini, Felix Cabrera, Damon Gersh and Rocksteady and many other special guests.  Entry is $25 at the door and there will be a cash bar.  All proceeds benefit the fire victims.  More information is available from The Port Washington Crisis Relief Team at http://www.pwcrisisrelief.org

Some interesting information has been made available from Save the Sound, a non-profit bi-state program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. For anyone who has sailed, raced, fished and just sat on the beach enjoying the beauty of Long Island Sound, this is important information about the health of this body of water. Note the references to western section of the Sound.

Curt Johnson, executive director of Save the Sound, made available a statement, which said in part: “Save the Sound took major action against nitrogen pollution in Long Island Sound. This has been a problem with the Sound because fish and oyster beds, coastal habitats and harbors, and ultimately, our neighborhoods and businesses all around the Sound are threatened by nitrogen pollution that saps oxygen, fuels toxic algae blooms, and destroys marshes. Every creature needs oxygen to survive. No oxygen equals no life. Period.”
Save the Sound recently submitted a 39-page petition to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding that it establish an enforceable plan to identify and slash the biggest remaining sources of nitrogen pollution flowing into the Sound.
The organization called on the EPA to exercise its regulatory powers and staunch the flow of nitrogen from broken and failing sewer pipes, septic systems and cesspools, urban storm water runoff and other sources in the Sound’s five-state watershed. Environmental organizations around the region are joining in this call to action.
The statement release continued: “The petition asks the EPA to take the following actions: 1. Make a commitment with the five states that drain to Long Island Sound (Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire) by June 2015 to develop an updated nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Load by June 15, 2016, that ensures Long Island Sound’s water quality will meet legal standards. 2. Establish an implementation and accountability program for those watershed states, also by June 15, 2016. 3. Immediately use existing authorities to slash nitrogen from urban storm water, broken and failing sewer pipes, septic systems and cesspools, and other local sources of nitrogen.”
“The EPA must act now to stop the nitrogen pollution that is decimating the web of life in Long Island Sound,” said Johnson. “From low-oxygen dead zones that smother aquatic life, to the destruction of tidal marshes that protect us from flooding and harbor young fish, and toxic algae blooms in harbors on Long Island’s north shore, nitrogen pollution causes countless problems for the Sound’s fragile ecosystem.”
It is the nitrogen pollution that is causing the problem because it is the primary driver of hypoxia, a low-oxygen condition that endangers fish, lobsters, oysters, and the industries that rely on them. Concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the western Sound consistently fall to dangerous levels in summer, as do local oxygen levels in many bays and harbors around the Sound.
“Nitrogen pollution in Long Island Sound is a problem caused by humans, and it’s up to humans to fix it,” said Johan Varekamp, Ph. D., Harold T. Stearns professor of Earth Science at Wesleyan University and board chair of CFE/Save the Sound. “Before the Industrial Revolution, Long Island Sound and its aquatic inhabitants enjoyed clean and healthy waters year-round. Now, like many estuaries across the world, the Sound faces low oxygen levels each summer, depriving organisms of safe habitats and fishermen of their livelihoods. This is a regional problem, and it can be fixed with a holistic approach to reducing nitrogen inputs from all sources in the Sound’s watershed.”
According to the Save the Sound Factsheet, there is an urgency to a regional nitrogen plan.  Nitrogen pollution contributes to the “low-oxygen dead zone that smothers marine life every summer in western Long Island Sound as well as local harbors and bays around the Sound.
Excess nitrogen is a substantial driver in the disturbing crumbling and sinking of tidal marshes that fringe our Sound and serve as nursery grounds for fish and protect our coastal neighborhoods from flooding.
Finally, excess nitrogen has been linked to years of toxic algae blooms on Long Island’s north shore that close shellfish beds for months at a time. High nitrogen could set off destructive toxic algae blooms in other harbors.”
For more information on how you can help increase the health of western Long Island Sound, go to: www.savethesound.org,  Their offices are at 142 Temple St., Ste. 305, New Haven, CT, 06510, 203-787-0646, and at 545 Tompkins Ave., 3rd Floor, Mamaroneck, NY, 10543, 914-381-3140.

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Andrea Watson is a Port Washington-based maritime photographer and journalist. She writes Manhasset Press' column On The Bay and is currently the Executive Secretary of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRALIS).

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