Bill Lucey, 48, a Wilton native, who has spent the last quarter century as an environmental conservationist in Alaska and Hawaii, was hooked on the idea of returning to Connecticut to continue making Long Island sound a viable economic engine.
"There are still lobster fisherman, even though they have dwindled," said Lucey, recently named the new Soundkeeper. "The shellfish fisheries are expanding. And, as the water gets cleaner, there's more opportunity to have oyster beds."
And he says it's nice to no longer hear about the sludgy dead zones that plagued the Sound when he last lived in Connecticut
"The whales are coming back," he notes. "The seals are coming back. The bald eagles are coming back."
As the first Soundkeeper, since the late Terry Backer passed away two years ago, his number one priority: advocating for money to solve the problem of rainfall that often overloads sewage treatment centers, which closes beaches.
He says the volume of sewage going in for treatment must be able to "be treated to a level where it's clean enough to discharge into the Sound."
Another issue needing attention, he says, is insufficient residential septic systems that also leach into see the sound, which he hopes "will create business for people building the tanks, business for people installing them and it will clean up the sound at the same time."
But, Lucey can't conduct his work effectively without reliable transportation.
The 21 foot, 32-year-old Mako boat named after Backer is still fine to use, but it needs a new fuel tank and a new engine, which would likely cost roughly $20,000.
Lucey, employed by Save the Sound, says he will visit and engage with many shoreline communities in both Long Island and Connecticut to continue the