Revitalizing the Long Island Sound: Upgrading the Connecticut Watershed Model to Better Manage Nutrient Loadings

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

The nutrient loadings that originate from the watersheds in Connecticut have the potential to cause a significant impact on the water quality, posing a harmful threat to aquatic animals and humans. Excessive growth of algae and aquatic plants in water, known as eutrophication, can decrease oxygen levels and toxic blooms. The Long Island Sound, in particular, is highly vulnerable to these effects, highlighting the urgent need to develop updated models to help understand and manage the nutrient loadings in the area effectively.

To solve this issue, our team has been updating Hydrologic Simulation Program Fortran (HSPF) models for watersheds throughout Connecticut that ultimately drain to the Long Island Sound. Inspired by the Pawcatuck River Watershed Model, our new approach refines the previous model by using data collections, validated HSPF models with our Scenario Application Manager (SAM), a decision support system, and integrating HSPF output into a Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program. This ultimately provided a comprehensive understanding of the nutrient loadings and their impact on the Long Island Sound.

By implementing this approach, we can make better-informed decisions regarding preserving and improving Long Island Sound’s ecosystem. The models help us understand the patterns of nutrient loading and the factors contributing to them, allowing us to identify the most efficient and effective methods for managing and reducing nutrient loadings in the area. Our goal is to ensure that the Long Island Sound remains a thriving and healthy ecosystem for all who depend on it.