Supporting Implementation

The previous sections have discussed the nature and extent of the priority problems affecting the health of the Long Island Sound ecosystem. Commitments by federal, state, and local governments that begin to resolve these problems have been presented along with recommendations to guide future actions.

As a key component of plan development, the Management Conference was also directed to identify the means by which its implementation would be coordinated. The Management Conference has identified three areas that are critical to implementing the plan:

  • The Management Conference must be continued to maintain and improve communication and coordination among different units of government, research and educational institutions, and concerned groups and individuals.
  • Public education about Long Island Sound must continue along with mechanisms to involve the public in continuing management efforts.
  • Adequate funding for the new and expanded efforts must be available and funding for existing programs that have been successful must be continued.

Details on each of these three areas are provided in the following sections.

Continuing The Long Island Sound Study

The states of Connecticut and New York, local governments, and the EPA have primary responsibility for implementing the plan. However, protection of the Sound is the responsibility of all sectors of government, the private sector, and individual citizens. A framework is needed for coordinating and redirecting efforts.

Extending the Long Island Sound Study Management Conference to continue this cooperative effort will provide the long-term commitment necessary to oversee implementation. Therefore, the Long Island Sound Study Policy Committee has formally requested that the EPA Administrator extend the Management Conference. To accommodate this need, the Congress has passed the Long Island Sound Improvement Act of 1990, which gave the EPA authority to extend the Management Conference upon plan completion. The EPA should, upon plan approval, extend the Management Conference for a minimum of five years to oversee implementation of the plan.

With adoption of the plan, the role of the Management Conference will shift from plan development to program implementation. Specifically, continuation of the Management Conference will provide a management framework to:

  • Track, monitor, and report on program implementation;
  • Incorporate new information to enhance implementation of actions;
  • Develop additional commitments for implementation from participating agencies;
  • Seek and advocate adequate funding; and
  • Continue public involvement.

These efforts will be summarized in a report every two years. The report will identify progress in implementing the plan, as well as any delays or obstacles to implementation; describe water quality conditions in the Sound and the effectiveness of management efforts to improve them; and recommend the redirection of efforts to meet the goals of the program. The Management Conference will continue to prepare fact sheets, articles, and newsletters to report on different aspects of the program.

As part of the Long Island Sound Improvement Act, the EPA established a Long Island Sound Office. To serve the bi-state community, the office has two facilities, one located in Stamford, Connecticut and the other in Stony Brook, New York. The basic activities of the Long Island Sound Office are to:

  • Provide administrative support to the Management Conference and coordinate the EPA with other federal agency involvement in Long Island Sound issues;
  • Support state program coordination and involvement in the Management Conference; and
  • Maintain public education and involvement efforts with an added focus on local government involvement.

The cost associated with this base level of effort for the Management Conference is approximately $475,000 per year, of which $175,000 is for maintaining the Long Island Sound Office and providing support to the Management Conference, $150,000 is for state program coordination of implementation, and $150,000 is for public involvement and education. Funding is available for these programs in fiscal year 1994 but will be required in future years.

The Management Conference recommends that part of the funding be provided through Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. These funds can be used for activities such as monitoring and reporting on plan implementation. The Management Conference further recommends that additional funding be provided through the Long Island Sound Improvement Act. These funds can be used for all the activities cited above and any additional activities that would be instrumental in enhancing implementation of the plan.

Section 320 of the Clean Water Act requires a non-federal match of 25 percent on all funds and the Long Island Sound Improvement Act requires a non-federal match of 50 percent. The states of Connecticut and New York should, at a minimum, ensure the availability of matching funds for all available federal grants.

Involvement and Education

Public involvement and education are essential to restoring and protecting Long Island Sound and will be fundamental to the successful implementation of virtually every part of the plan. Public involvement and education also help the public understand, appreciate, and enjoy the Sound’s resources and the benefits derived from them. An informed and educated public can help develop a united and organized constituency to galvanize support for the cleanup and protection of the Sound and its resources.

The goal of public involvement and education is to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Sound as a regional ecosystem and a national treasure and to provide feedback to the Management Conference on future direction.

Six objectives have been developed to accomplish this goal. They are to:

  • Build community awareness and appreciation of the Sound;
  • Promote understanding of the Sound;
  • Promote individual involvement and management of Long Island Sound by supporting hands-on activities to clean up and restore the Sound;
  • Increase communication and cooperation between the public and the many groups involved with Long Island Sound protection, including the Management Conference;
  • Develop educational opportunities at all age levels; and
  • Secure funding for all public involvement activities proposed as part of the plan.

Highlights of the actions for achieving the public involvement and education goal include:

  • The Management Conference Public Involvement and Education Program and the state public outreach programs will be continued. Collectively, these programs will provide consistency of information going to the public and ensure that the public receives current information on the implementation of the Management Conference actions and recommendations.
  • The EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York will provide information to municipalities regarding the importance of Long Island Sound protection and restoration. Special attention will be given to coastal municipalities with briefings by state officials to explain how implementation of the plan will affect their cities or towns and to foster cooperation and partnership. Briefings will also be held for specific user groups, local officials, and elected representatives.
  • The Citizens Advisory Committee will continue to provide guidance to the Management and Policy Committees and to serve as a link between the public and the Management Conference.
  • The Management Conference will continue to encourage public participation in activities relating to the cleanup and protection of the Sound and provide support for activities including storm drain stenciling, beach grass planting, and beach cleanups.
  • The Management Conference will establish a public outreach work group to guide the implementation of the public involvement and education strategy. The work group will work closely with, and serve to complement, the ongoing public outreach and education efforts of the Citizens Advisory Committee. The group will also be charged with determining funding sources for implementing the strategy, consulting with staff on tactics, working to provide coordination of public outreach efforts from both an internal and external basis, and assessing program effectiveness.
  • The states of Connecticut and New York will continue to work with appropriate school districts in their states to develop Long Island Sound education materials and outreach programs for primary and secondary schools. These resources also will be made available for integration into other environmental education programs.
  • The Management Conference will seek to create a public involvement and education (PIE) fund that could be supported by a variety of funding sources. Potential federal appropriations through the Long Island Sound Improvement Act could be used to create an endowment fund. The PIE fund would be administered by the Management Conference. A PIE fund, and interest generated from its endowment, would provide support for both non- governmental and governmental organizations for projects fulfilling the recommendations for education and involvement.

Since current state and private Long Island Sound public education programs are underfunded, the Management Conference recommends that additional state and private funding sources be directed toward meeting the needs of existing programs before being sought for a PIE fund.

The activities necessary to achieve the involvement and education goal would be undertaken by the states, the EPA, Sea Grant programs, and numerous other groups. In Connecticut, the budget for ongoing Long Island Sound related public outreach programs is approximately $100,000 annually. In addition, Connecticut’s High School Long Island Sound Research Grant Program provides $30,000 yearly to fund educational research programs on the Sound and, during calendar year 1993, the Long Island Sound License Plate Program spent $250,000 from the Long Island Sound Fund on education projects. This existing program funding is summarized in Table 1B. The EPA Long Island Sound Office budget for public education and involvement is $150,000, discussed earlier as part of the base level of effort required for the Management Conference.

Approximately $450,000 dollars would be needed to fund the priority enhancements to current involvement and education programs and recommendations for new programs as stated in the plan. This includes support of enhanced Management Conference and state public outreach programs that will now focus on implementation of the management plan ($200,000 per year); the development and facilitation of public participation in Long Island Sound cleanup and monitoring activities ($100,000 per year); and the integration of Long Island Sound educational materials and curriculum into the New York state and Connecticut school systems ages K-12 ($150,000 per year). Furthermore, the Management Conference also recommends that seed money be made available for the establishment of a PIE fund.

Support of public involvement and education is the best long-term investment that can be made to guarantee the successful restoration and protection of Long Island Sound. Public support for the Sound is crucial to the continuation and funding of Long Island Sound improvement programs and a sense of public responsibility, or stewardship, will lead to lifestyle changes that must occur to ensure a healthy Sound for future generations.

Summary of Plan Costs and Funding

The costs of cleanup efforts are significant. They include the costs of continuing existing programs, the costs of enhancing these programs, and the costs of project implementation such as upgrading sewage treatment plants or initiating practices to control nonpoint sources of pollution.

Funding to cover these costs must be provided by the federal, state, and local governments and by the private sector, in partnership, with each paying its fair share. The prospects for achieving the Management Conference’s goals and objectives, and the pace with which progress is made, will be directly related to the availability of adequate funding.

Existing Program Funding

The plan includes numerous commitments on the part of the NYSDEC, the CTDEP, the EPA, local governments, and other federal, state, and local agencies to continue the implementation of ongoing programs. At a minimum, these commitments require that existing program activities continue to be funded at existing levels by the states of Connecticut and New York and from federal grants. These funds that support statewide programs are the base upon which Long Island Sound protection efforts must build.

As presented in Table 1A, the total statewide appropriation in New York state for water quality protection, natural resource management, and coastal zone management is $39.8 million. Federal grants to New York state for these activities provide an additional $29.4 million statewide. As shown in Table 1B, the total statewide appropriation in Connecticut for water quality protection, natural resource management, and coastal zone management is $8.7 million. Federal grants to Connecticut for these activities provide an additional $6.5 million statewide.

Enhanced Program Funding

The plan also includes commitments and recommendations for actions requiring additional program resources. The commitments are actions for which enhanced program resources have already been made available or for which there are firm obligations. The recommendations are actions that require additional funding that is not currently available. As summarized in Table 2, the total cost of the plan’s priority commitments is $3.25 million. The total cost of the plan’s priority recommendations is $5.99 million per year. The total costs of implementing all of the Management Conference’s commitments and recommendations are presented in the full plan.

Project Implementation Funding

The project implementation costs associated with the plan are large and are dominated by the potential cost of upgrading sewage treatment plants to remove nitrogen, the cost of remediating combined sewer overflows, and the cost of property acquisition (Table 3). The capital costs of Phase II nitrogen reduction actions are $103.1 million in New York state and $18.1 million in Connecticut. The potential long-term costs are much higher. Based on preliminary estimates, the costs of the additional nitrogen control for point sources ranges from $5.1 to $6.4 billion in New York state and from $900 million to $1.7 billion in Connecticut. These costs would be in addition to the $243 million in Connecticut and $1.5 billion in New York state needed to implement the currently planned combined sewer overflow abatement programs critical to reducing pathogens and floatable debris in the Sound.

Using these cost estimates, the total capital need for the wastewater program in New York state for the next 20 years has been estimated to be $25 billion; this includes $7 billion for the needs within the Long Island Sound drainage basin. The total capital need for the wastewater program in Connecticut for the next 20 years has been estimated to be $3.5 billion, almost all of which is for needs within the Long Island Sound drainage basin.

The two states have concluded that the existing State Revolving Funds are the preferred vehicles for funding major capital projects for wastewater programs; substantial funds have already been obligated to the programs for project implementation (Table 4). Based on the preliminary, high-cost hypoxia management scenario in this plan, the Connecticut State Revolving Fund needs an infusion of $70 million per year in federal funds and $47 million per year in state funds over 20 years to meet statewide needs, including Long Island Sound nutrient control needs. The New York State Revolving Fund needs an infusion of $623 million per year in federal funds and $128 million per year in state funds over 20 years to meet statewide needs, including Long Island Sound nutrient control needs.

Cost estimates for the necessary level of control for nonpoint sources of nitrogen have not been developed but are expected to be substantial.

Significant project implementation costs are also associated with the habitat-related commitments and recommendations. The total project costs for restoring habitat, creating reserves, and improving species management are $1.7 million, $30 million, and $1.4 million, respectively.

Sources of Funding

A number of funding sources must be targeted to help meet the need for enhanced program and project implementation funding.

To fund project implementation, the Management Conference recommends that the Clean Water Act be reauthorized and that grants to the states to help capitalize their State Revolving Fund programs be continued. Following reauthorization of the Act, the Management Conference will formulate a detailed financial plan, consistent with authorized federal funding levels, to meet the total cost for plan implementation. The financial plan will include a specific focus on the ability of local governments to pay for required improvements. The states are committed to providing technical assistance to local governments in complying with the plan.

To ensure that implementation of the management plan gets off to a good start, the Management Conference recommends that the Congress appropriate $50 million to fund a Long Island Sound Challenge Grant program.

  • A significant portion of the funds would be used for point and nonpoint source nitrogen control actions that do not involve major capital improvements.
  • Funds would be obligated for use within the individual nitrogen management zones in proportion to the load reduction targets.
  • The entities responsible for achieving the nitrogen load reduction targets would submit applications for the funds to the states. The states would obligate funds for the most cost- effective projects.
  • The remaining portion of the funds would be used to support actions in other areas, such as habitat restoration and acquisition, stormwater abatement, and public access. Of this remaining portion, $10 million would be allocated to habitat restoration and acquisition.
  • Funds would be awarded on a competitive basis, with eligibility limited to projects that support implementation of the plan and go beyond the current legal or regulatory obligations of the recipients.

To support program enhancements, the Management Conference recommends funding under the Long Island Sound Improvement Act, the targeting of other available federal Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act program funds, and the targeting of available state and local funds.

While the primary focus of the Management Conference has been on programs and projects resulting from the Clean Water Act, there are other legislative initiatives and programs that affect the quality of Long Island Sound. This is particularly true for programs to protect living resources and habitat. Continued support for and improvements in these programs will have direct benefits for the Sound. Programs that acquire land or easements include the Land and Water Conservation Fund, New York state’s Environmental Protection Fund, and Section 318 of the Coastal Zone Management Act; programs that restore habitat include the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act; and programs that manage species include the Sport Fish Restoration Act (the Dingell-Johnson and Wallop-Breaux Acts), the 1993 federal Atlantic Coast Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act, the Pittman-Robertson Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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