Friday, September 02, 2011

Irene, Stormwater, Pollution, SoundVision

The incredible amount of water that Hurricane Irene dumped onto the Long Island Sound watershed is still making its way into the Sound, carrying pathogens and toxic substances in amounts that are probably unmeasurable. The SoundVision action plan contains two sections that deal with stormwater. I pasted a long excerpt below.

Don't forget Tuesday's SoundVision event, 3 p.m. at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich. Details here.

PCW Action Step 2: Reduce loads from non-point sources
Nutrients and toxics also enter the watershed and the Sound from widely distributed “non-point” sources. These include stormwater runoff from residential and agricultural land.

Immediate actions
• PCW2.1: Identify barriers to green infrastructure implementation. Stewardship and Policy
• PCW2.2: Adopt stormwater performance standards in NY and CT in order to assure that new development is designed so that the site acts like its natural condition—retaining and returning stormwater runoff into the ground, rather than sending it into rivers and streams. Policy
• PCW2.3: Investigate opportunities for implementing green infrastructure in urbanized shoreline communities. Stewardship
• PCW2.4: Ensure NY and CT stormwater permits—construction and municipal separate storm
sewer system (MS4)—are strong and enforced. Policy

Intermediate actions
• PCW2.5: Advocate for implementation and enforcement of Long Island Sound protective model stormwater ordinances that incorporate low impact development (LID) and green infrastructure best management practices. Policy
• PCW2.6: Develop incentive program to encourage LID and green infrastructure and disincentive programs to discourage impervious surface cover. Policy
• PCW2.7: Expand storm-drain stenciling program. Stewardship and Outreach
• PCW2.8: Develop or incorporate an outreach strategy that outlines the prioritized actions of
“preserve land, limit hardening, and undevelop when possible.” Stewardship and Policy
• PCW2.9: Investigate sufficiency of NY and CT Department of Transportation stormwater permits and measures. Stewardship and Technology

Long-term actions
• PCW2.10: Fund research to identify sources and cost-effective techniques for non-point source pathogen reduction in Long Island Sound embayments. Policy
• PCW2.11: Encourage and monitor stormwater management best management practices that
reduce soil loads. Stewardship
• PCW2.12: Continue developing new methods to educate the public about what they can do in their own backyard. Stewardship and Outreach

Action Step 5: Eliminate raw sewage and bacteria impacts
Many of our local beaches and coves are closed for swimming after rainstorms when waste-water treatment plants are overwhelmed with stormwater runoff that has leaked into the sewage collection system. The treatment plants overflow and discharge partially treated sewage mixed with stormwater into the coastal waters. While communities are required to separate sewage and stormwater systems, there are many legal and illegal connections between these systems that contribute to CSO and SSO discharges and lead to closed beaches and swimming areas. The challenge is particularly acute in urban areas where runoff from streets and paved areas can easily overwhelm treatment capacity. Slowing runoff and filtering runoff before it reaches collection systems (green infrastructure) can dramatically lessen discharges of bacteria and pollutants to coastal waters.
On Long Island there are 27 embayments under a pathogen TMDL. Unlike urban areas like New York City, Bridgeport or New Haven, these areas are impacted by non-point source pollution, not CSOs.
Many other portions of the watershed in New York and Connecticut also contribute pathogens pollution from non-point sources like agriculture, improperly maintained septic/cesspool systems, wild animal and pet waste, un-naturally concentrated wildlife, even gardening. This provides conditions in stormwater systems that allow bacteria to be discharged into coastal waters.

Immediate actions
• PCW5.1: Complete green infrastructure feasibility scans for New Haven and Bridgeport, CT.

Intermediate actions
• PCW5.2: Secure financing and enforcement to eliminate CSOs and SSOs. Policy
• PCW5.3: Reduce beach closings by 50% in five years with coordinated monitoring and targeted stormwater management plans. Policy, Science, and Technology
• PCW5.4: Develop cost effective DNA testing for pathogens to identify the source of pathogen
contributions so that municipalities can concentrate efforts on eliminating highest contributing sources. Science
• PCW5.5: Develop BMPs to reduce non-point source pathogen contributions. Science and Policy
• PCW5.6: Assure that CSO separation projects continue in key communities like New York City
and Bridgeport, CT while encouraging innovative green infrastructure efforts to limit or
eliminate CSO flow by 2020. Stewardship and Policy

Long-term actions
• PCW5.7: Focus attention and funding on implementing urban stormwater green infrastructure
projects. Policy and Outreach



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