Monday, August 21, 2006

Use Save the Sound's Report Card to Prod Your Local Officials To Do Better On The Sound Cleanup

Government officials absolutely hate it when the public is shown that they (the officials, that is) are not doing an adequate job. Elected officials hate it because they think it will make it harder for them to get re-elected; appointed officials hate it because the elected officials blame them for the lapses.

Given that, community activists all over should be reading Save the Sound’s report, out last week, on how diligent the towns and cities bordering Long Island Sound have been in preventing contaminated stormwater from reaching the Sound.

Written in the form of a report card that addresses other issues as well, the Save the Sound report indicates that stormwater efforts have been mediocre:

Results were mixed, with only two receiving a grade of “very good” overall, and most did not have strong programs to address polluted runoff.

Here’s how Courant reporter David Funkhouser termed it:

The group gave only two communities - Brookhaven and Smithtown, N.Y. - a grade of "very good" for addressing storm-water runoff, and said most municipalities do not have strong programs to control runoff.

The results of the survey are hard to interpret: Many communities simply did not reply, and not every town answered every question. What is clear is that efforts to control runoff are still mostly in the talking stages. And, the money to fix the problem just is not available. …

"By far the biggest obstacle to implementing effective storm-water management and smart growth practices is the lack of available funding," said Robin Kriesberg, Save the Sound's interim director of Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship.

Some federal money is available. But programs have been cut back. In Connecticut, the state's annual contribution to Clean Water Act programs has yet to be approved, and environmental groups say the $50 million in proposed funding is crucial to keep the state on track for the long term.

The Connecticut Post used the report as an occasion to prod Connecticut officials to get back to work and put that $50 million back in the state’s Clean Water Fund:

However, to effectively reduce pollution carried by wastewater and storm run-off into the Sound, the state must recommit itself to increased funding to aid municipalities.

Such an investment, in the long run, leads to cleaner Sound waters and improved environment for state aquaculture and recreational opportunities.

The full report is here, in the left column. Look up your town’s score. Praise them for what they did right; but make sure they know that you know what they did wrong.


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