At the Larchmont Office of the nonprofit Save the Sound, Elena Colon, laboratory manager, conducts hands-on science to gather data from water samples. She is measuring the health of Long Island Sound–how “swimmable, fishable, and livable” it is.
You can explore this unique data using an interactive online website called SoundHealthExplorer.org, a special project of Save the Sound that recently was expanded to give you better access to the same water testing results used to manage your local beaches. The results also show various factors that affect water at each of the 200+ beaches that encircle Long Island Sound.
When you go to the home page of the site and share your location, you will get a personalized list and grades for your nearest beach and closest water body, along with the projected average sea level rise by 2050. In our region the average sea-level rise projection for Long Island Sound is 1′ 8″ by 2050.
If you zoom into your location you can see how this sea level rise could affect your home and our shorelines. To view more detailed information such as social vulnerability, population, or ethnicity, you can click on “View Full-Feature Map” and you will be shown a detailed Risk Zone Map that is provided by Climate Central.
The grades for local beaches vary widely. If you click on “swimmable” and share your location, your local beaches will show up with their grades and descriptions. For example, clicking on Larchmont, NY brings up a map showing Larchmont Manor Park Beach among others. It got a grade of B+ in 2021. Additional links will take you to more information on various beach closings.
At Harbor Island Park, the beach got a D grade, with challenges including marine debris, sewer discharges, and storm water runoff.
Want to go fishing? Click on the “fishable” link from the home page and you will learn that the Eastern Narrows zone which includes Larchmont and Mamaroneck, has in the past scored only a C largely because of low levels of dissolved oxygen, a sign of stressed aquatic environment.
Sound Health Explorer is managed by Martin Hain, Digital Projects Manager and Designer, who also happens to be active locally, having served on the Village of Mamaroneck Committee for the Environment and the Village of Mamaroneck Harbor & Coastal Zone Management Commission.
Other information you can find on Sound Health Explorer:
- Beach Sampling Data for all Sound beaches dating back to 2004
- Rainfall data to see correlations between water pollution and precipitation
- Public Boat Launch locations
- Wastewater Treatment Plant locations and discharge permit number
- Combined Sewer Overflow Outfall locations
- Watershed and Subwatershed boundaries
- Land Use & Land Cover
- Percent of Impervious Surface to show density of the built environment around the Sound, and areas that likely experience the highest volume of storm water runoff
Save the Sound issues an annual “Report Card”– the most recent one is from November 2022– addressing water quality in the open Sound as well as its Bays, which suffer from unique challenges. There are 53 Bays and bay segments bearing the brunt of local human-sourced pollution flowing from rivers, streams, and groundwater. Sadly only 23 of the 53 are in good health. All of the bays are included in the data on SoundHealthExplorer.org.
For more information click here.