Westchester County and Save the Sound have been awarded a $200,000 federal grant from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to develop a blueprint for curbing polluted stormwater runoff flowing to the Hutchinson River.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The Long Island Sound is a natural treasure for Westchester County residents and visitors from recreational, commercial and spiritual standpoints. With this grant, we anticipate that Westchester County will be in a better position to obtain additional state and federal grants to help implement the plan after it’s been completed.”

The County’s Planning Department partnered on the grant with Save the Sound, a New Haven, Connecticut based, with a satellite office in Mamaroneck Village, not-for-profit organization focused on protecting and restoring Long Island Sound.

Save the Sound, on behalf of the county, applied for and received the $200,000 grant that will be matched by $25,000 from the Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District as well as $25,000 in in-kind services, largely staff time, from the Planning Department. The cash match will be derived from annual funding to the district from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The grant will be further matched by in-kind services, largely volunteer time, from Save the Sound. The grant is funded through the Long Island Sound Study, a decades-old partnership among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York and Connecticut.

The grant and cash match will be used to develop a long-range plan for improving water quality by filtering out pollutants commonly found in urban and suburban stormwater runoff before it reaches the Hutchinson River in Westchester County. A separate plan focused on the New York City portion of the river is expected to be developed in the future. With the funding, the Planning Department and Save the Sound will both hire a consultant to develop a plan that meets the nine-point criteria for watershed management plans adopted by the EPA.

Westchester County Department of Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond said: “The Hutchinson River is on the New York State List of Impaired Waters, with oil and grease, low dissolved oxygen and pathogens being the primary pollutants of concern. This list notes that a suspected source for these pollutants is urban and suburban runoff. This plan will address these pollutants and their sources. It also will provide a foundation for furthering the river’s protection through scientifically sound stormwater management practices.”

Westchester municipalities in the Hutchinson River drainage area are Eastchester, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor and Scarsdale. Development of the plan is expected to begin in the spring 2021 and be completed in 2022. Public outreach and education will follow as will the design and construction in 2023 of a model water quality improvement project focused on polluted stormwater runoff using funding from the Soil and Water Conservation District.

Latimer concluded: “We are all responsible for ensuring its protection and the cleanliness of its water for swimming, fishing, boating and relaxing as well as for the fish and wildlife that depend on its health for their survival.”