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Group Appeals State Consent Order to Allow More Nitrogen Dumping

Connecticut's Save the Sound wants court to not allow more nitrogen dumping in Long Island Sound, which connects to Little Bay.

An environmental advocacy group has appealed a state consent order that would allow more nitrogen dumping into the Long Island Sound, which connects to Little Neck’s Little Bay.

Save the Sound, which is based in Connecticut, has filed an appeal in Nassau County’s State Supreme Court against a consent order by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that would allow Great Neck’s sewage district to increase nitrogen dumping into the Long Island Sound.

Currently, the sewage district is allowed to dump 238 pounds per day. During the past year, the plant has discharged an average 526 pounds per day.

Under the new consent order, the plant would be able to dump 653 pounds per day.

The advocacy group contends that this level would be deadly for fish and other marine life in the Sound and that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.

“We should be moving forward and working to ensure that both Connecticut and New York are going to meet the 2014 nitrogen reduction goals, not sliding backwards,” said Leah Schmaltz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “Upgrades in New York are still lagging behind due to minimal funding and lax enforcement. By relaxing the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District’s nitrogen limit, the DEC is putting its stamp of approval on the continued pollution of the Sound.”

The advocacy group has also accused the DEC of entering into the consent order without the required public notice and hearings.

"The consent order provides a path for bringing the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District into compliance with water quality standards by upgrading its facility to reduce nitrogen discharges," said Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the DEC. "The order allows the district time to construct the upgrades and the district is on target to meet the order’s June 2014 deadline and Long Island Sound’s total maximum daily load. The result of the order’s requirements will be improved water quality for Long Island Sound."

Schmaltz said water quality this past August in the western end of the Sound was the fourth worst in two decades of record keeping.

Save the Sound’s appeal asks the court to vacate the provision of the consent order that allows backsliding as well as prevent the DEC from modifying the Great Neck plant’s limits.

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