An estuary is an areas where freshwater delivered by rivers and streams flows into the ocean, mixing with salt water.
The Long Island Sound estuary is 1,300 square miles in size with over 600 miles of coastline. The Long Island Sound watershed, or drainage basin, covers over 16,000 square miles and extends beyond New York and Connecticut to parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec.
More than 4 million people live within the coastal boundary of the Sound and over 9 million people live within the greater watershed.
Long Island Sound provides crucial habitat for a diverse range of plant and animal life. The Sound is home to more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds.
The Sound also supports diverse usage through commercial and recreational fisheries, transportation and commerce, and boating, bathing, hiking, and bird watching. These activities generate billions of dollars annually in the regional economy.
In 1987, Congress designated the Long Island Sound Study as an Estuary of National Significance. The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) is one of 28 National Estuary Programs funded by EPA under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. Protecting and restoring the water quality of the Sound is an important goal for NEIWPCC.
The LISS Management Committee is a partnership of stakeholders representing citizen and environmental groups, businesses and industries, academic institutions, and local, state, and federal governments working to implement the 2015 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). NEIWPCC and its LISS program staff assist with implementing all four goals of the Plan:
The Sound Health is a report to the public on the environmental issues affecting Long Island Sound that is developed on a biennial basis. It provides information on water quality, the abundance of animal and plant life in the Sound, efforts to restore natural areas, and efforts to increase public access to the waterfront. Each report also highlights special projects or topics.
To view the Sound Health reports electronically, please visit the Long Island Sound Study’s Sound Health webpage.
In 2006, Congress created the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative in order to recognize and protect areas around the Sound that hold ecological and recreational value.
A bi-state work group selected 33 inaugural areas, termed Stewardship Areas, from around the Sound. The Areas were highlighted in an online Stewardship Atlas on the Long Island Sound Study website.
The Atlas provides details on why the site was selected as a Stewardship Area, photos and videos highlighting the ecological and recreational importance of the site, and additional information needed for planning a visit to the site and surrounding area.
Interested in working with the program? See our Contractor Opportunities page for open Requests for Proposals.
In addition, NEIWPCC staff are also engaged in the ongoing effort to revise the Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen in the Sound.