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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    CUSH marks 10 years of water quality monitoring, cleanup efforts

    Mystic — Clean Up Sound & Harbors will celebrate its 10th anniversary from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 13 at Latitude 41 Restaurant.

    The organization's mission is to clean up and protect Fisher’s Island Sound, including its coves, inlets, bays, rivers, and harbors.

    During the celebration, CUSH Founder Gracelyn Guyol will describe the nonprofit’s history and achievements. Fran Hoffman, CUSH president from 2012 to 2014, will present Sea Star Awards to individuals or organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to its mission. Immediately following this brief annual meeting, a complimentary brunch will be served.

    In 2017, CUSH plans several collaborations, including one with Mystic Aquarium on a Long Island Sound Futures Fund project using a $24,000 grant. This funding will enable monitoring five additional water testing sites in Mystic River and provide a more comprehensive picture of the watershed. Public outreach will be expanded as well through additional organic turf, landscaping, and gardening workshops. Ten new water testers will be needed from spring through fall to monitor the five sites. To volunteer, contact Sally Cogan at tomsallycogan@sbcglobal.net; or Fran Pijar at f.pijar@comcast.net.

    CUSH has conducted eight years of water quality testing and produced reports on the findings. In 2016, it was proud to be invited by Save the Sound/Connecticut Fund for the Environment to be one of three groups piloting Sound-wide embayment research in the bi-state Unified Water Study, to grade water quality and ecosystem health. In 2017, two additional stations will be added to this program – for Mystic Harbor and River – with additional volunteers needed to monitor these as well.

    The algae bloom fed by nitrogen runoff that choked Little Narragansett Bay last summer also wreaked havoc with the local marine ecosystem. As part of the UWS, CUSH water testers grabbed and identified samples of algae at three sites to better understand this problem. New data will be included in future Report Cards, but until then, visit http://bit.ly/cush-li-reportcard-2016 to see the 2016 Report Card.

    CUSH advocates a variety of ways to lower nitrogen runoff in the sound. It successfully concluded the first year in a three-year trial of organic/natural systems on the Stonington High School baseball field; recommends homeowners do soil tests to learn what is needed to make their landscape healthy; and has requested the Stonington K-12 School Building Committee include specifications for preparation of soils to establish organic turf management at the two elementary schools. Organic/natural lawn care is a win-win by providing a healthier environment for students and maintenance that becomes less expensive over time.

    A nonprofit corporation, CUSH is operated by an all-volunteer staff. For information, visit: www.cushinc.org.

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