(Long Island, NY) A resolution to fund the development of a hydrothermal model of the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary was approved by the Suffolk County Legislature at its March 24 general meeting. The model will help predict future environmental impacts from point sources of heat being discharged into the Long Island Sound from utilities including the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, Connecticut.
Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) requested county funding for the study in light of the fact that average water temperatures have been rising at an alarming rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade for the past 40 years. Warming waters are already impacting the ecology of the marine environment with significant reductions in cold water species such as lobster and winter flounder and a key fish and shellfish plant habitat, eelgrass.
The study will build upon a hydrodynamic model of the Sound already developed by Stony Brook that analyses water flow patterns. The study may also prove useful in analyzing the impact of a permit requested from Dominion Power to use two billion gallons per day of water from the Long Island Sound to cool the nuclear reactors at their Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. The current permit expires in September and Connecticut regulators are currently reviewing a request under the Clean Water Act for a new 5-year permit.
“The Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary are federally protected water bodies whose ecology is being severely impacted by rapidly rising water temperatures,” said Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who sponsored the legislation authorizing the study. “This study will allow the county to comment knowledgeably on the proposed cooling permit by giving the county an understanding of how the thermal discharge will impact these critical water bodies.”
The Millstone Power Plant releases approximately 15 million BTU’s of heat each hour into the Long Island Sound at a location approximately 11 miles north of Orient Point.
The resolution, sponsored by Suffolk County Legislature Deputy Presiding Officer Schneiderman, amends the 2015 adopted operating budget by transferring $79,435 from Fund 477. The Suffolk County Water Quality Review Committee, who oversees Fund 477, recommends funding for programs which are appropriate uses of Suffolk County Water Quality protection and restoration programs. This committee unanimously approved Schneiderman’s proposal on Friday, February 27.
This research also has the support of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, the Town of Southampton, the East Hampton Town Trustees, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk.
Now that this resolution was approved by the legislature, it will now go to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who is expected to sign it into law.
Representing the South Fork, Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman is the Suffolk County Legislator for the Second Legislative District. For more information, or to arrange an interview, please call (631) 852-8400.