The Nature Conservancy has spent millions trying to revive hard clams in the Great South Bay. Now the conservation group wants to get the bay declared an "impaired waterbody" because of harmful algae such as brown tide. The designation that could funnel federal dollars to study troubling changes in the bay's ecosystem.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency maintains a list of rivers, lakes and estuaries with substandard water quality. "Without the listing, the EPA can't spend any money," said Carl LoBue, a marine biologist with the group.
This fall, LoBue asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to recommend the Great South Bay for the list, citing nitrogen pollution that spurs blooms of algae. The agency is expected to respond to the request this winter, he said.