NORTHPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of water experts gathered at the Merchant Marine Academy with a vision for the future of Long Island Sound.

Their first symposium was held 20 years ago.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, much has been achieved, but there are many current and emerging threats.

“If you don’t use the water, why live here?” asked Northport fisherman Mark Serotoff, extoling the virtues of Long Island Sound.

At 110 miles long, with Connecticut to the north and Long Island to the south, it’s a jewel to the eight million people who live within its watershed.

“I come out every day for lunch to break up my work day,” one man said.

“It’s beautiful. We have a boat out there,” a woman added.

“Just so grateful to have grown up in a town like this,” said another man.

Progress has been achieved, with 50 percent of Long Island Sound’s toxic nitrogen gone.

“A 20-year reflection of the collective work of New York State, Connecticut and our federal partners to bring Long Island Sound back from the brink of some very significant contamination,” announced New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

However, dozens of water experts gave dramatic testimony, warning of current and emerging threats, including nitrogen from septics, climate change, sea level rise, acidity, invasive species, wetland loss and marine debris.

“We learned today that not only is Long Island Sound a beautiful natural asset, but it is also an economic engine,” said Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Our goal is to try and bring together all the local, state and federal stakeholders who care about our national park – the Long Island Sound – to figure out what we need to do moving forward,” Congressman Thomas Suozzi added.

Long Island Sound, formed by ancient glaciers, will undergo significant change in the next 20 years. Experts say anticipating, preparing and adapting will save aquatic life, the water and the land around it.

Everyone at the water conference signed a pledge rededicating another 20-year effort to save Long Island Sound.