Jul 07, 2008

Stenciling for the Sound

As part of continuing efforts to preserve and protect Long Island Sound, the Connecticut Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) Long Island Sound Fund has offered free storm drain marker kits containing markers bearing the message “Drains to Waterways and Long Island Sound, No Dumping.” The kits also include the glue, gloves and instructions needed to conduct a volunteer storm drain marking project.

A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management matched financial assistance for the Storm Drain Stenciling Program, the intent of which is to raise environmental awareness and reduce nonpoint source pollution in Long Island Sound. The markers serve as a reminder that what Connecticut residents do—even at inland locations—impacts water quality in Long Island Sound.

Falkner Island, Long Island Sound

“The cleanup of Long Island Sound continues to be a priority of the DEP, and the Storm Drain Stenciling Program provides the opportunity for every Connecticut resident to raise public awareness and understanding of how their daily activities impact water quality,” said DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy. “Additionally, this program has been cited by EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds as an example for other states and educational organizations in their Watershed Patch Project booklet, which provides guidance for educators across the country.”

The DEP is committed to reducing the amount of nitrogen entering Long Island Sound from nonpoint sources by 64 percent by 2014. Connecticut anticipates spending $560 million over the next 15 years to eliminate combined sewers that deliver high volumes of untreated water directly into rivers. These rivers and storm drains deliver most of the more than 5.6 trillion gal per year of freshwater into Long Island Sound.

Every drop of water that goes down a storm drain eventually finds its way—untreated—into Long Island Sound. That is why it is important to keep substances such as motor oil, soap, fertilizer, litter, leaves and pet waste from entering storm drains. Residents can do their part to improve water quality in local waterways and, in this case, Long Island Sound by following some storm water-friendly tips: washing cars on lawns, cleaning up after pets; leaving grass clippings on lawns; disposing of motor oil, paint, solvents and other chemicals properly; using gravel, trap rock and crushed stone for home improvements; and including vegetated buffers in landscaping plans.

Map of Long Island Sound

Response & Funding

The DEP has distributed more than 90,000 storm drain markers in 56 Connecticut municipalities, providing service projects for scout troops, schools, environmental education organizations, public works departments and watershed and lake associations. Although all of the English markers have been distributed, the DEP still has many available in Spanish for free distribution to local nonprofit, volunteer and educational groups. Since the Storm Drain Stenciling Program was launched in 2002, the DEP has received inquiries about it from communities in other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Texas.

The Long Island Sound Fund is supported through the sale of “Preserve the Sound” license plates. More than 139,310 have been sold, raising more than $4.87 million, which has been allocated to fund upward of 300 projects in the categories of research, public access, habitat restoration and education.

About the author

<i>Kate Brown is Long Island Sound fund coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Long Island Sound Programs. Brown can be reached at 860.424.3034 or by e-mail at [email protected].</i>

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