OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A new study grades dozens of bays in New York and Connecticut based on water quality.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Tuesday, several of them are not in good health.

Stretching more than 110 miles, the Long Island Sound is one of North America’s most ecologically diverse estuaries known for beaches, boating and fishing.

“It also generates approximately $17 billion annually economic income and ecological value for our region,” said Tracy Brown, regional director of water protection for the nonprofit group Save the Sound.

But, the water across the sound varies greatly in terms of quality. A new study released by nonprofit Save the Sound ranked 50 bays with grades ranging from A to F.

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Receiving top marks in the study, Outer Stonington Harbor with 96%, followed by Mystic Harbor and Outer Port Jefferson Harbor.

Meanwhile, the worst grade went to: Inner Cold Spring Harbor with 53%, followed by Inner Eastchester Bay and Inner Manhasset Bay.

The difference in quality, Brown said, is due to the level of pollution in the streams and rivers feeding into them.

“The bays and harbors that are pristine either have less excess nitrogen and pollution coming from the land and have cleaner streams and rivers feeding them, but they also have open flushings,” said Brown.

Meanwhile, the six Indicators used to judge the water included:

  • Levels of dissolved organic carbon
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Chlorophyll
  • Water clarity
  • Seaweed
  • Oxygen saturation

The researchers said the water quality indicators were used to measure the quality of the environmental health of the waters, as well as their ability to support aquatic life and marine habitats.

Meanwhile, researchers said the most surprising finding was that the quality of open water did not always match that of the water in a bay.

For example, there were some bays closer to New York City, where there’s typically more pollution, that were cleaner than expected.

“They probably have less nitrogen coming in from their watershed because most people in that area of the sound are on sewer,” said Jamie Vaudrey of the University of Connecticut Department of Marine Sciences.

As for next steps, researchers said more federal funding is needed and more accountability from all of us.

“The fertilizer, nitrogen coming in from our septics and sewers and controlling our storm water,” Vaudrey said.

For now, the scientists hope this report card will serve as a road map to remind us what bodies of water need help and which need to be preserved.

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