Hartford, CT – Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced today an Urban Waters Small Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to research and improve marine water quality at public beaches in Norwalk.

Earthplace’s Harbor Watch Program, a citizen water monitoring effort, will receive $52,637 to screen and research the quality of water at three major storm water runoff drains discharging into the Norwalk Harbor. The ultimate goal will be to identify and eliminate sources of contamination that get into Norwalk’s storm drains which lead to Long Island Sound, improving water quality for the shellfish industry and public beaches.

As a parent, long-time shellfisherman, and outdoor enthusiast, I care deeply about keeping Long Island Sound clean now and in the future. This important funding will help ensure our families have clean, safe water in which to play and fish,” said Himes. “I appreciate Harbor Watch’s continued commitment to improving the health of our watershed and look forward to working with state and local leaders to implement their findings.”

The Long Island Sound and our other waterways are among the state’s most precious natural resources. Harbor Watch volunteers deserve tremendous gratitude for their long-time dedication to improving water quality, both for the regional shellfish industry and for the countless families who enjoy our beautiful beaches every summer. I applaud the EPA for this important investment, and look forward to partnering with new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on future efforts to preserve and improve our water quality,” Blumenthal said.

In my opinion, citizen activism is the backbone of change in this country. It’s how I first got involved in public service, cleaning up the local river near my hometown in Connecticut. This EPA grant recognizes citizen activism at its finest. It helps Harbor Watch volunteers continue their great work to keep our water clean so people in Norwalk can use their beaches and farm shellfish without being concerned about pollution.  I congratulate these great volunteers, and I look forward to seeing even more success from them in the future,” Murphy said.

The Harbor Watch program began in 1986 as a volunteer citizen effort to gather data on hypoxic conditions in the harbors of the Long Island Sound. The program has since expanded to monitor local rivers as well.

"This significant funding from the EPA will support and enable the critical water quality monitoring work that Harbor Watch, a program of Earthplace, is doing in Norwalk.  We are thrilled to partner with the EPA on this important project,” said Harbor Watch Director Richard Harris.

I applaud Harbor Watch and Earthplace for stepping up to address this issue, which will have important ecological benefits for the Norwalk shellfish industry and for all who use area beaches,” said Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia.

The Urban Waters Small Grants program funds research, studies, training and demonstration to projects to advance the restoration and quality of urban waters, with special focus on efforts that support broader community revitalization. EPA received nearly 600 applications for the program and awarded 55 grants.