WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday introduced the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Reauthorization Act. The Long Island Sound borders Connecticut and New York, with more than 20 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound’s beaches. Decades of high levels of pollution, dumping of dredged materials, and releases of untreated sewage have put the Sound’s wildlife population, fisheries, water quality, and surrounding communities at risk. The economic viability of the Sound, which contributes around $9.4 billion annually to the regional economy, is dependent on activities, like sport and commercial fishing, boating, recreation, and tourism. The current law is set to expire in 2023 and this bill would reauthorize a total of $65 million annually for water quality and shore restoration programs. 

“The Long Island Sound is more than just an ecological resource and economic asset for Connecticut – it’s a huge part of our state’s identity. Keeping the Sound clean and healthy for generations to come will require us to continue investing in its restoration. I’m glad to join forces with Leader Schumer and Senators Gillibrand and Blumenthal to make sure we’re doing everything possible to support shoreline communities and the future of the Long Island Sound,” said Murphy.

“Major investments in the Long Island Sound are vital to restore and preserve this environmental treasure,” said Blumenthal. “The Sound’s water, habitat, and wildlife help determine our quality of life, and provide huge economic benefits to both Connecticut and New York shoreline communities.” 

“The Long Island Sound is one of our most important natural treasures and a vital economic engine that supports thousands of local jobs,” said Gillibrand. “With important funding for the Sound set to expire in 2023, I’m leading the effort to pass the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Reauthorization Act to reauthorize $65 million for restoration efforts. This funding would help protect the long-term health of the Sound, support our shoreline economies, and keep our watershed safe and sound for generations to come.”

“The Long Island Sound is a natural treasure and economic engine for New York that draws families, boaters, tourists, and anglers to our shores,” said Schumer. “I’ve worked hard to deliver hundreds of millions in federal funding to protect, clean up, and improve the Sound, its habitats, and beaches, but there is more work to be done. The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act will authorize $325 million over five years for projects that will boost the Sound’s water quality, restore its shorelines and coastal wetlands, and ensure a cleaner environment for New Yorkers for generations to come.”

“On behalf of the Citizens Advisory Committee, we thank our Senators from NY and CT for cosponsoring and introducing this important bill reauthorizing the Long Island Sound Stewardship and Restoration Act. All four senators have been champions of Long Island Sound and we’ve seen some great results. Dolphins are regularly seen in the Sound, historic shellfish beds have reopened as water quality has improved. Communities are working to become more sustainable, and habitats are managed for greater resilience. Reauthorizing this critical Act provides the funding needed to continue progress to restore Long Island Sound and address the many challenges we still face,” said Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee Co-chairs Nancy Seligson, NY and Holly Drinkuth, CT

In 1985, the EPA, in agreement with New York and Connecticut, created the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), a partnership charged with advancing efforts to restore the Sound and address low oxygen levels and excess nitrogen levels that have depleted fish and shellfish populations as well as hurt shoreline wetlands. In 1990, the Long Island Sound Improvement Act was passed, providing federal dollars to advance Sound cleanup projects, including wastewater treatment improvements. 

In 2006, Congress passed the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, which provided federal dollars for projects to restore the coastal habitat to help revitalize the wildlife population, coastal wetlands, and plant life. In 2018the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which combined and reauthorized the two complementary water quality and habitat restoration programs, was enacted as a part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. As of 2022, federal funding for the Long Island Sound has enabled programs to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Long Island Sound from sewage treatment plants by 70.3% compared to the 1990s, reduce hypoxic conditions by 58% compared to the 1990s, restore at least 2,239 acres of coastal habitat, and fund 570 conservation projects.