The Long Island Sound watershed includes the unit of land through which water flows and drains into Long Island Sound. This includes all the streams, tributaries, ground water, and rivers that ultimately drain into the Long Island Sound and then to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Long Island Sound watershed drains over ten million acres encompassing the four major rivers of Connecticut. These rivers are the Housatonic River, Connecticut River, Thames River, and Quinnipiac River which all drain into the Long Island Sound. The waters that drain into the Long Island Sound from these four major rivers hold the collective health and water quality of the land they swept over, under, and through as they moved toward the Long Island Sound. During the journey, the waters from these rivers have crossed farm lands, asphalt roads, parking lots, industrial areas, metal collection centers, salt piles, abandoned power plants, and water treatment centers. As the water moves through and over these areas, a variety of pollutants and debris are picked up and carried, thus entering the global water system. These pollutants affect both the fresh water and saltwater fish and ecosystems as they enter the rivers and are carried through estuaries and to the Atlantic Ocean. When the river waters drain into the Long Island Sound, saltwater marsh and estuary ecosystems are affected. As a result, marine creatures in both fresh water and salt water ecosystems are affected by what is carried with the water from the watershed. Thus the waters and life of Long Island Sound and the watershed can be impacted by activities as far away as Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts in addition to the neighboring states of New York and Rhode Island. Ultimately, as some contaminates move up the food chain, humans are affected by their own impact on the watershed when they consume plants and fish that have become contaminated by pollutants in these waters. Humans are also affected when they interact with water when boating, swimming and fishing. The water quality of the Long Island Sound rests in the quality of water that is feeding into it from its watershed. Eventually, these pollutants enter our global water system when they mix with the large water system of the Atlantic Ocean, inevitably affecting a broader global community.
Figure 2. Long Island Sound watershed