The Suffolk County Legislature agreed to fund a hydrothermal model of the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary at their general meeting March 24, in an attempt to predict future environmental impacts of heat discharged into regional waterways from utility plants, including the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, Conn., just 11 miles across the Sound from Orient.
Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences requested county funding for the study because average water temperatures have been rising at a rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade for the past 40 years, said County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who sponsored the legislation, in a press release Wednesday.
The study will build on a model of the Sound analysing water flow patterns already developed by Stony Brook, and could be used to analyze the impact of a permit requested from Dominion Power to use two billion gallons per day of water from the Long Island Sound to cool the nuclear reactors at the Millstone plant.
The current permit expires in September and Connecticut regulators are reviewing a request under the Clean Water Act for a new 5-year permit.
The Millstone Power Plant releases approximately 15 million BTUs of heat each hour into the Long Island Sound, said Mr. Schneiderman.
Warming waters are already impacting the ecology of the marine environment in the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary with significant reductions in cold water species such as lobster and winter flounder.
“The Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary are federally protected water bodies whose ecology is being severely impacted by rapidly rising water temperatures,” said Mr. Schneiderman. “This study will allow the county to comment knowledgeably on the proposed cooling permit by giving the county an understanding of how the thermal discharge will impact these critical water bodies.”
The county resolution transfers $79,435 from Fund 477, Suffolk County’s Drinking Water Protection Fund, for the study.
This research has the support of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, the Town of Southampton, the East Hampton Town Trustees, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is expected to sign it into law.