Westchester County's economic, recreational and environmental well-being is directly tied to the health of Long Island Sound, which is designated an Estuary of National Significance. Westchester County also has designated the shore of this estuary a critical environmental area.

In order to protect this resource, county agencies, working with municipalities, have been actively involved in programs to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the sound's watershed (or drainage basin) in Westchester. Nonpoint source pollution (or polluted stormwater) control is at the heart of these improvement efforts. 

Nonpoint source pollution is polluted stormwater runoff containing sediment, fertilizers and pesticides, petroleum, heavy metals, and wastewater from failing septic systems. These pollutants are often carried by runoff to streams, rivers, and Long Island Sound. They are a serious problem that can only be kept under control by changes in the way we use the land and how we maintain our homes and automobiles.

Watershed Advisory Committees 
The county's nonpoint source pollution control program, initiated in 1991 to  dovetail with the federal and bi-state Long Island Sound Study, has focused its efforts on intermunicipal watershed planning, natural resources restoration and public outreach and education since 1995.

The intermunicipal planning aspect of the program strives to coordinate and guide the activities of 19 cities, town and villages in Westchester’s Long Island Sound watershed, which extends from Lewisboro south to Mount Vernon. To ease this effort, the watershed was separated into seven study areas made up of one to three subwatersheds. A Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC) is assigned to each of the six areas. The WACs are comprised of residents and municipal staff charged with crafting a watershed management plan for their respective study areas.  They receive administrative and technical help from County Planning Department staff. Three of the WACs (WACs 3, 4 & 5) have completed their plans; a fourth (WAC 7) plan is being drafted. 

Subwatershed Municipalities
WAC 1: Silvermine, Mill and Mianus Rivers Bedford, Lewisboro, North Castle, Pound Ridge
WAC 2: Byram River Bedford, New Castle, North Castle, Port Chester
WAC 3: Blind, Beaver Swamp and Brentwook Brooks; Milton and Port Chester Harbors Harrison, Mamaroneck Village, Port Chester, Rye Brook, Rye City
WAC 4: Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers; Mamaroneck Harbor Harrision, Mamaroneck Town & Village, New Rochelle, Scarsdale,
White Plains
WAC 5: Pine and Stephenson Brooks; Larchmont Harbor Larchmont, Mamaroneck Town & Village, New Rochelle, Pelham,
Pelham Manor 
WAC 6: Hutchinson River Eastchester, Mt. Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Scarsdale
WAC 7: Bronx River Ardsley, Bronxville, Eastchester, Elmsford, Greenburgh, Harrison, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Vernon, New Castle, North Castle, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, White Plains, Yonkers 

Watershed Planning                                                         
The WAC plans assessed and made recommendations for improving the following:

  • municipal ordinances and comprehensive plans of development
  • streams
  • wetlands
  • stormwater management
  • public education and outreach

With specific regard to streams, wetlands and stormwater management, the WACs identified potential restoration sites and made recommendations for restoring them. Learn more about aquatic restoration.

Related publications

  WAC3 Controlling Polluted Stormwater Report
  WAC4 Controlling Polluted Stormwater Report
  WAC5 Controlling Polluted Stormwater Report
  NPS Pollution Education Posters
  NPS Pollution Fact Sheets

For further information on watershed planning efforts concerning Long Island Sound, contact:

Robert Doscher, Principal Environmental Planner

Tel: (914) 995-4423 Fax: (914) 995-3780