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Despite the continued fiscal and economic challenges confronting the state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is making the right choice by continuing state investment in cleaning up Long Island Sound. The legislature should support his position.
Gov. Malloy proposes investing $285 million in grants and providing $712.4 million in low-interest loans over the next two years to pay for projects that will continue reducing storm-water runoff into the Sound and the tributaries that lead to it. The proposed investment would also repair and expand sewer systems to prevent wastewater from contaminating the Sound, and pay for other measures necessary to protect this vital natural asset.
While past administrations have cut investment in the Clean Water Fund during tight fiscal times, Gov. Malloy recognizes the importance of staying the course. During his first two years in office the legislature authorized $558 million in bonding for Clean Water Fund grants and loans.
In addition to being a magnificent natural resource, the Sound is a major economic engine for the state, attracting tourists to Connecticut's beaches, sustaining a major boating industry, and supporting commercial and recreational fishing. The projects aimed at reducing pollution entering the Sound will also generate thousands of good, local engineering and construction jobs.
"Clean water funding is a win-win and we need to ensure that ample funds are available in the future," Leah Schmalz, director of legal and legislative affairs for Save the Sound, appropriately noted in testimony to the Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.
Every summer hundreds of acres of Long Island Sound become "dead zones." Excessive nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, flow into the Sound from septic systems, old sewage plants and the overuse of fertilizers. This causes excessive algae "blooms," and when microbes consume the algae it uses up the oxygen supply, leaving these zones unable to support fish and lobsters. Greases, oils and dangerous chemicals, washing into the Sound through storm drains, cause additional problems.
Connecticut and neighboring New York have made great strides in reducing the source of this pollution, but if our grandchildren are to inherent a healthy Long Island Sound the effort must continue.