Department of Environmental Conservation

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Long Island Sound Study

Long Island Sound is an estuary approximately 110 miles long (east to west) and 21 miles across at its widest point, and covers an area of 1320 square miles with 600 miles of coastline. It is located in one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, particularly along the Nation's coastal areas, within the jurisdiction of two states, New York and Connecticut. Its valuable recreational and commercial uses make it one of the most important estuaries in the nation. In 1985, Congress allocated funds for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research, monitor, and assess the water quality of Long Island Sound. In March 1988, Long Island Sound was identified as an Estuary of National Significance and the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) became a part of EPA's National Estuary Program. In March 1994, LISS released its Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) to guide restoration and protection activities. The commitments and recommendations of the CCMP were agreed to by the Governors of New York and Connecticut and the EPA Administrator during a Signing Ceremony in September 1994. In the CCMP, LISS identifies and addresses the following priority problems:

  • Hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen)
  • Toxic substances
  • Pathogen contamination
  • Floatable debris
  • Management and conservation of living resources and their habitats
  • Land use and development

The CCMP also addresses how to implement the plan, including public involvement and education.

Currently, the LISS is working on a revision to the 1994 CCMP, incorporating new environmental issues, management techniques, and scientific findings that have developed in the past 20 years. The revision will also set guidelines for dealing with emerging issues and ideas over the next 20 years. New concerns that Long Island Sound faces include climate change, pharmaceutical products in the water, and ecosystem based management. The revised CCMP is expected to be completed in January 2015.