As the saying goes: “It all flows downhill.”

Today’s heavy rains are a good reminder of “downstream effects.” Weather reports will talk about the amount of rain and local flooding, but rarely do we hear about where all this water goes. The answer? Downstream. And around here, downstream means Long Island Sound. As that water washes towards the Sound — via streams, brooks, rivers and storm water pipes – it picks up all that we humans leave behind.
Little things add up to…a big mess.
The candy wrapper that didn’t make into the garbage? Flows downstream. The oil that leaked out of the car? Flows downstream. The water bottle left behind from a walk? Again… flows downstream. After a big rain the coastline will be littered with… litter. The coffee cups, plastic bags¸ deflated balloons and more – much more – will pile up. It’s an eyesore but – even more important – it is toxic to animal life because all that plastic breaks down into small pieces that, to a fish or a crab, looks just like food.
What can we do about it?

A big problem like this requires many approaches. Among them, we can use less plastic (a shout-out here to the BYOGreenwich campaign to ban disposable plastic bags in Greenwich); we can reduce paved area, which lessens the flow of water and we can also pitch in for spring coastal cleanups (join SoundWaters on April 21 at Cove Island) to help clean up our coastline and downstream waters. Check out the Long Island Study to learn more about downstream effects.