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Supporting Municipal Natural Resource Protection
New York Coastlines, Spring 2009

Municipal stormwater management and nonpoint source pollution control on Long Island are of vital importance to protecting estuarine resources. Polluted runoff has been identified as a primary cause of Long Island Sound, South Shore Estuary Reserve, and Peconic Estuary impairments. Among the issues, pathogen-contaminated beaches pose threats to human health, with far-reaching effects on the economy, while sediment can cause wetland degradation and disappearance of wildlife.

The New York Sea Grant (NYSG) Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Program has responded to these issues since 2001, providing technical expertise and assistance concerning EPA Phase II Stormwater Program compliance to nearly 100 Long Island municipalities. Using its primary tools: a list serve, consultations, presentations, and written feedback, NYSG NEMO has helped LI municipalities to improve their Phase II stormwater programs.

Following NYSG NEMO outreach, communities have improved construction and post-construction requirements, and procedures for site plan review and inspections. Changes include an ordinance for retention of rainwater from new driveways, and erosion and sediment controls for projects smaller than an acre. Nassau County strengthened its drainage requirements by limiting the volume of runoff allowed to be discharged into its stormsewer system and by further encouraging development practices that reduce impacts. Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as several towns and villages, have initiated storm drain retrofit projects.

NYSG NEMO support and feedback have prompted municipalities to improve their stormwater programs in a multitude of ways. Examples include development of sustainable funding mechanisms, a septic system inspection program, equipment procurement, and inter-departmental work groups.

Given today’s challenging economic times, perhaps NYSG NEMO’s most enduring impact is how it facilitates cost-effective inter-municipal stormwater management. Over the years, the number of such cross jurisdictional efforts has grown; the most recent effort currently underway is in the Peconic Estuary drainage area on the Island’s East End.

— Eileen Keenan, NY NEMO Program Manager
Contact information: ek72@cornell.edu or 631. 444.0422

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