GREENWICH, Conn., -- Connecticut's U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, visited Greenwich Point on Friday to enlist support for legislation to protect Long Island Sound and also to highlight the importance of clean water.
They spoke about the Senate’s passage of the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, a bill that supports research, pollution reduction, and conservation efforts for the Sound. It still needs the approval of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"This is really important, and it's not to the finish line yet," Murphy said. "It's only passed the United States Senate at this point, but we are really glad that we have gotten all of our colleagues support for these important programs that protects the Sound."
Blumenthal, a Greenwich resident, said Washington, D.C., is aware of the critical importance of Long Island Sound.
"The whole Congress now is aware of the importance of Long Island Sound," Blumenthal said. “It is a national treasure. It is precious and important, not only to New York and Connecticut but to the whole country. It’s the largest estuary that we have and is vital not just to commercial and fishing uses and recreational importance but also to the enjoyment of quality of life that makes Connecticut and New York a center of the universe without any exaggeration.”
They also got an update on local efforts in using shellfish to help clean the waters of the Sound.
Greenwich Shellfish Commission Chairman Roger Bowgen said it took a lot of work to improve water quality enough to open shellfish beds. Bowgen said a survey done two weeks ago found there are 1.4 billion clams and 25 million oysters in Greenwich waters on any given day. The modest clams and oysters are mighty cleaning machines, Bowgen said. One 2-inch clam can filter 20 gallons of water per day and a 3-inch oyster can filter between 50 and 100 gallons per day.
“When you keep shellfish beds healthy, you’re automatically cleaning up the waters," he said.
The senators also heard from commercial fisherman Ed Stilwagen, who explained clam fishing to them.