LATITUDE 41 NITROGEN REDUCTION REGIONAL SYMPOSIUM

Taking Action to Reduce Nitrogen in Long Island Sound, the Peconic Estuary,

and the South Shore Bays

May 3, 2016

Hilton Garden Inn Stony Brook

 Thank you to all the speakers, participants and sponsors!

 

Lat41 Nitrogen Reduction Cover

 

Restore America’s Estuaries and The Nature Conservancy were pleased to co-host a Regional Symposium on ways to identify and advance nitrogen reduction strategies for Long Island Sound, the Peconic Estuary,and the South Shore bays. 

Background

On November 4, 2014, a special session entitled Latitude 41 – Breaking Barriers to Regional Estuarine Restoration From the Bronx to the Cape was held at Restore America’s Estuaries' 7th National Restoration Conference outside Washington, DC. This brief forum stimulated the first discussion of a regional approach to dealing with similar water quality impairments, particularly from nutrient pollution, that affect local, and sometimes shared, coastal waterbodies.

In February 2015, a second Latitude 41 forum was held in Groton, Connecticut, to delve further into coastal water quality issues affecting the Latitude 41 region. The meeting, formally entitled Latitude 41 Under Siege: Impact of Nutrient Pollution and Ocean Acidification on Coastal Waters, Estuaries and Marine Life,showcased the latest science on these issues and provided a forum to not only discuss the current situation but, more importantly, to focus on effective solutions and what needs to happen next.

New regional initiatives are now moving forward that focus on addressing nitrogen pollution in the coastal waters of Long Island and Connecticut:

  • In December 2015, EPA released a Nitrogen Reduction Strategy for Long Island Sound.  The strategy focuses on identifying and implementing programs, policies, and pilots to address the adverse impacts in Long Island Sound from nitrogen.
  • In February 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation held a series of stakeholder meetings around its proposed Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan.  The plan will determine nitrogen load reduction targets as well as alternatives and strategies to meet those targets in Long Island waters.
  • In February 2016, The Nature Conservancy sponsored a forum to focus on nitrogen pollution of the Saugatuck River watershed, and ways in which it can be addressed.

The bottom-line reality is that the waters along Latitude 41 are under serious threats from land-based sources of non-point pollution, predominantly from a significantly high number of outdated cesspools and septic systems, fertilizer, and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen conveyed by stormwater.  Pollutants from point sources also enter the region’s waters, including inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants.  Action needs to be taken now in order to reclaim the heritage and services the waters provide.  We are quickly facing a time when there will be no turning back – the water quality will have passed the “tipping point” from which there can be limited recovery.  

Statement of Purpose

The Regional Symposium provided a forum for a cross-section of local and regional leaders to hear experts from across the region, from the Bronx to Cape Cod, about their experience with the science and practice of reducing nutrient pollution and how it might be applied to Long Island Sound, the Peconic Estuary and South Shore bays.  The symposium helped to better understand the development of nitrogen reduction targets in watersheds, their limitations and strengths, and how they can be implemented and monitored. The use of ecological endpoints in estuaries will also be explored, and ways in which they can be used to prevent and reduce nitrogen impairments.     

Attendance reached 159 participants including leaders from municipal and county governments, conservation and environmental groups, and the private foundation community.  

Outcomes

The Symposium built on the information shared at the Latitude 41 forums and will build on recent regional initiatives on nutrient pollution.  The Symposium focused specifically on Long Island Sound, the Peconic Estuary and South Shore bays, and ways in which nutrient pollution can be addressed.  Highlights from this meeting include:

  • The latest science associated with nitrogen reduction targets, thresholds, estuarine endpoints and other aspects of TMDL-lite approaches. 
  • Discussion and explanation of opportunities and constraints with using targets and endpoints for management of nitrogen pollution.
  • A focus on the role of local municipalities in watershed planning, funding and implementation efforts. 
  • Presentations about successful nutrient reduction programs across the region and elsewhere.
  • Case studies focusing on nutrient pollution in waters along Long Island and Connecticut, and potential approaches to preventing pollution and restoring water quality.
  • Identification of capacity and funding needs of local and state municipalities for nitrogen reduction implementation actions.
  • Identification of possible next steps and additional actions to keep communication flowing about nitrogen pollution.

Agenda

The final agenda is here.

Steering Committee

 A very special thank you to the members of the Steering Committee who provided guidance and encouragement throughout the planning process.

Speaker Bios 

Please click here to view or download speaker bios.

Abstracts and Presentations

Please click here to view or download abstracts or presentations.

Background Documents

Please click here to view or download additional background documents.

List of Participants

Please click here for the final list of registered participants.

Final Report

Please click here to view or download the Final Report.

Sponsors

Support for this meeting was provided through the generosity of Scotts Miracle-Gro, The Prospect Hill Foundation, Save the Sound, Long Island Section of the American Planning Association New York Metro Chapter, New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, and The Nature Conservancy. For a full list of sponsors click here.

Contacts

For additional information please contact Jeff Benoit at jbenoit@estuaries.org