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A state budget agreement has earmarked $300,000 for studying water quality in the Western Bays region of Long Island’s South Shore, an area that has been on a state watch list for more than a decade.

Since 1998, Western Bays, home to a large concentration of salt marshes, has been on New York’s list of water bodies impaired by pathogens. Decreasing water quality has resulted in the closing of more than 15,000 acres of shellfish beds, Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) said in a memo supporting the legislation. Earlier research found severe concentrations of nitrogen, ammonia and low-dissolved oxygen in certain areas.

 The first step to restoring the Western Bays water quality is to develop a “total maximum daily load” plan, Sweeney said. In essence, the plan will determine how much discharge -- from sewage treatment plants -- the Western Bays can tolerate without deteriorating.

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The $300,000 would come from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Lawmakers intend to vote on state budget bills Wednesday and Thursday.