NESS Joins the Unified Water Study!

71% of the Earth is covered by water. This Earth Day, and every day for that matter, it’s important that we celebrate and take care of this planet and all its water—including Long Island Sound!

We are excited to announce that we are joining Save the Sound’s Unified Water Study this year! The Unified Water Study (UWS) is designed to measure human impact on, and the relative environmental health of Long Island Sound embayments. What is an embayment? An embayment is a recess in the shoreline. These watersheds include harbors, rivers, coves, bays, creeks, brooks, inlets, cuts, and others. The findings from this study will further our understanding of the Sound and inform and support our actions to preserve and protect it.

What does it mean to be a part of the UWS?

As part of the UWS, we have received equipment on loan that will allow us to collect data about a variety of water quality parameters associated with eutrophication within and adjacent to embayments in Stonington and Alewife Cove in New London. The parameters we will be monitoring are dissolved oxygen, conductivity (salinity) chlorophyll a, temperature, turbidity, and qualitative macrophyte assessments. As NESS’s Director of Stonington Programs Mary Ann Horrigan explains, “we are honored to be joining a network of likeminded steward organizations across NY and CT that are working together to learn more and support Long Island Sound.”

Why do we need the UWS?

Despite three decades of effort to improve water quality, Long Island Sound remains a severely stressed environment. In the western sound (from Greenwich to Nassau County) dissolved oxygen concentrations—a key measure of the Sound’s health—consistently fall to levels too low to support wildlife. In 2017 Save the Sound (a bi-state program that is part of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment) launched the UWS. While the pollution in the open Sound has been monitored for decades, the condition of the bays and harbors (where most of the public comes into contact with Long Island sound) can be dramatically different that the open Sound.

Typically, it is hard to compare water quality conditions in the Sound’s many embayments since the monitoring work in these embayments is usually conducted by different groups using different methods. The water quality monitoring protocol developed by the UWS allows groups along Long Island Sound to collect comparable data on the environmental health of the Sound’s embayments.

Want to get involved?

If you are supporting or joining this NESS stewardship initiative, please email Mary Ann Horrigan (mhorrigan@nessf.org).