Stormwater Management Assessment of Greenwich by Sound Waters
Greenwich scores well in report on Sound water
By Hoa Nguyen
August 17, 2006
Greenwich and Stamford received good marks from an environmental group that examined the role municipalities play in protecting water quality in Long Island Sound.
"They do seem to be really committed to doing what they can to keep their waterways clean," said Robin Kriesberg, author of the report, "Long Island Sound Municipal Environmental Progress Report, June 2006."
Written by Norwalk-based Save the Sound, the report scored 74 coastal municipalities in Connecticut and New York on their stormwater management and land use practices. Both are important to improving the health of Long Island Sound.
Stormwater from roadways and other paved surfaces drain directly into the Sound, and can bring with it contaminants, such as vehicle fuel, motor oil, roadway salts and other polluted runoff. Environmental officials have said stormwater pollution is the primary reason why many water bodies do not meet water quality standards. Land-use practices also are important because having more development along the coast increases the potential for pollution.
The environmental report gave Greenwich an overall mark of "good." The town's stormwater management scored a "good" while its land-use practices received a "fair," though the score missed the better mark by only one point.
The scores are an improvement from 1998 when a similar report graded Greenwich "fair" overall. The report said the municipality had a "strong regulatory system" that keeps tabs on stormwater pollution, but that paved and other impervious surfaces account for about 21 to 30 percent of the town, increasing the likelihood of water quality problems.
Denise Savageau, the town's conservation director who helped respond to the survey that Save the Sound sent to municipalities, said it was hard to compare Greenwich with other municipalities that are smaller and experiencing less development pressures.
For instance, while other municipalities gained a point for knowing the number of acres that are undeveloped in their area, Greenwich doesn't because much of the land is in private ownership and it would be hard to get a precise figure.
"The land-use office are sophisticated enough to know that we don't know that answer," Savageau said.
Overall, only two New York municipalities -- Huntington and Smithtown -- received "very good" marks. Stamford received an overall of "fair," though a mark of "good" for stormwater management and a "fair" for land-use. The report said the marks were given because the city left several questions blank. Norwalk also received an incomplete grade because several questions were not answered.
Kriesberg said she hopes the report will convince state and federal authorities to fund more water quality projects on the municipal level.