Saving Sound a wise move

It’s about time.

Congress must do the right thing and approve the Long Island Sound Improvement Act of 2010, introduced earlier this week by East End Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican Peter King of Nassau. At more than $1 billion, it’s not a cheap measure by any means. But if we’ve learned anything from the BP disaster in the Gulf, it’s that money wisely invested in environmental protection can pay off handsomely in preventing the enormous cost and equally staggering damage that are the sorry legacy of doing nothing.

This legislation would set aside $125 million in federal assistance in 2011 and $250 million in each of the subsequent four years. Addressing concerns that throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, the bill calls for a review every two years of the continuing Long Island Sound study’s effectiveness.

With all the emphasis on the health of East End and South Shore bays, we tend to take the Sound for granted. Water quality in the Sound off the eastern half of Long Island is pretty good, but it won’t stay that way by just wishing it so. The Village of Greenport’s sewage treatment plant pours its effluent into the Sound. And Brookhaven Town has its hands full with Sound shore flooding and stormwater runoff issues.

The Sound is one big body of water and its health is directly tied to human activity far beyond Long Island — in New York City and every New England state except Maine. The Connecticut River, which separates Vermont from New Hampshire, flows through Massachusetts and Connecticut right into the Sound. What goes into the ground eventually reaches the water, in this case the Sound estuary system.

Said county Legislator Ed Romaine, “We need to make the Sound, which has become a dump, pristine again.”

The only way to accomplish that is with federal assistance.