How East Lyme is taking measures to reduce pollution
By Julia Walker
The United States annually deposits 1.2 trillion gallons of industrial waste, sewage, and storm water into bodies of water without treatment. In East Lyme, waste in Long Island Sound comes primarily from storm drains on the street.
To reduce pollution in the Long Island Sound, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection teamed up with East Lyme, the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, and the Niantic River Watershed Committee.
The organizations planted trees along Grand Street in Niantic and placed medium-sized rocks by storm water drains. The goal of reconstruction was to filter pollution out of the storm-water drains before water was deposited into the Sound.
“It is a great opportunity, designing new ways to help species and the environment,” said Victor Benni, head East Lyme town engineer.
New storm drains will be installed in the junior parking lot at East Lyme High School next summer to protect Latimer Brook. A rain garden will be planted at ELHS, which uses plants to filter pollution out of rainwater.
“We are working to make sure everyday actions are not causing permanent damage to the environment,” said Judy Rondeau of the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, and watershed coordinator for the Niantic River Watershed Committee.
On a smaller scale, many people have encouraged the education of preventing further pollution. Third grade classes travel to the parking lot at Hole in the Wall Beach each year to discuss how to keep pollution out of the Sound.
At East Lyme High School, science teacher Laura Ashburn teaches an advanced placement Environmental Science class and organizes extra credit cleanup activities at Latimer Brook and local beaches.
“It is important to educate the next generation on helping the environment. If we want to keep our beaches, parks, and hiking trails, we need to spread awareness about environmental issues and volunteer,” said Ms. Ashburn.