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Release Date: 04/07/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BRIDGEPORT - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Connecticut today launched a major new initiative that will dramatically improve the public's access to information about water quality on Long Island Sound.

EPA-New England is awarding $737,810 to the University of Connecticut to establish a network of monitors on buoys in the sound and create a web site that will bring timely water quality data to the public.

"Thousands of citizens who regularly use Long Island Sound for boating, swimming or fishing will now have immediate access to detailed water quality information," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator, during a press conference today at the Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School. "This project will put the latest technology to work in keeping track of environmental conditions in Long Island Sound."

The objective of the EPA program called EMPACT (Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking) is to increase public understanding of the sound and its water quality. In the coming months, three buoys fitted with sensors that measure salinity, dissolved oxygen and other water quality indicators will be placed in the sound. The three buoys will be in addition to two buoys which have already been installed near New London.

"This is an exciting new program that will allow many people to get information through the Internet about the vital signs of Long Island Sound," said Arthur Rocque, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. ATogether with DEP's water quality monitoring program, EMPACT will give scientists, educators and the public a more accurate and complete picture of conditions in the sound."

A radio transmitter on each buoy will send data every 15 minutes to a central computer at the University of Connecticut, where it will be posted on a web site. Information from the buoys will be combined with data from other sources, including environmental organizations and the state. Kiosks with computers will be located at the Norwalk Aquarium and in other locations. The Long Island Sound Office of EPA will link its existing home page to the new Long Island Sound web page ( to provide extra background information about ongoing environmental work in the sound.

"The information on this web site will be helpful not only to government officials and scientists, but to educators and students trying to better understand the sound and appreciate the efforts needed to protect it," said Mark Tedesco, director of EPA's Long Island Sound Office.

Project partners B the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Save the Sound, Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School, the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium and Spectrogram Corporation B will coordinate activities to assemble and deploy buoys, provide additional data, develop new sensors and help with outreach.

"As a non-profit organization working on this project, Save the Sound is pleased to bring this type of timely and useful information to the public," said John Atkin, President of Save the Sound, Inc. "The more informed people are about the importance of Long Island Sound, the better able they are to appreciate and protect it."

The network of buoys will include two stations in the waters off New London, two stations off Bridgeport and one in the western end of the sound. Each buoy will record water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and the speed and direction of the current. Where possible, the web site will also include data regarding nutrient concentrations, Chlorophyll A and surface hydrocarbons. In addition to using measuring devices already available, the project is working with Spectrogram Corp. to develop and test new sensors.