Rivers Alliance of CT logo

Rivers Alliance
Connecticut's United Voice for River Conservation

  Search Our Site

(use Ctrl-F to search individual webpages)
donate and join button










Follow Us on Facebook!

Water Quality Priority Topic

River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality 

Priority Topics

Water Quality

Photo courtesy of Diane Friend Edwards


Water Quality Archives                                                                                 Back to Priority Topics 


 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

Dec 8, 2017 

Legionnaires' Disease Statistically Associated With ZIP Codes Along Two CT Rivers

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found a link (see below) between two river watersheds in Connecticut (the Naugatuck and the Quinebaug) and cases of Legionnaires’ Disease. 

The somewhat mysterious finding does not conclude that direct contact with the water increases risk, although the researchers are suggesting following up by testing the water for the bacteria, and using actual locations of disease victims instead of ZIP codes. Their best guess at this time is that the bacteria are communicated in some form of aerosolized water, perhaps associated with power-plant cooling or sewage treatment or even car tires. The study was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. 

The link was established by mapping the rate of recorded cases of Legionnaires' Disease per 100,000 people in each Connecticut ZIP code, then applying mathematical analyses to the data to account for population age and density, age of housing, and frequency of testing. Each ZIP code was assigned to a river basin based on which watershed occupied the largest area of that ZIP code; then the distance of the center of the ZIP code to the river main stem was used to calculate whether there was a statistically significant association with that river. 

A news article about the report on the Yale website is here. The actual study can be found here

 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

May 10, 2017 

New Report Shows Some Private Wells in Connecticut Test High for Naturally Occurring Arsenic, Uranium

On May 3, Connecticut's Department of Public Health (DPH), in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), announced the publication of a report that reveals that water from some private wells across the state has registered high levels of arsenic and uranium. Click here for DPH's announcement. For the full USGS report entitled "Arsenic and Uranium in Private Wells in Connecticut, 2013-15," click here.

 Major Findings

Nearly 1 out of 15 (7 percent of) water samples from 674 private wells tested in Connecticut contained either arsenic or uranium at concentrations that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) enforceable for drinking-water supplies.

Of the 81 geologic units studied, 19 had at least one sample with arsenic or uranium concentrations that exceeded the MCL.

The results of this study reaffirm DPH's previous recommendation that private well owners in Connecticut should test their wells for naturally occurring arsenic and uranium. "Our study shows that any private well in Connecticut has the potential to have elevated arsenic or uranium," said Ryan Tetreault, DPH Private Well Program supervisor. "Private well owners should have their well tested at least once for these contaminants."

click for full screen in a new tabThe USGS report includes maps of their results. Help in interpreting the maps is below. Click the map to the right for a modified version in a new window of one of the maps.

Help in interpreting the maps

Approximate locations where well water was sampled in the study are shown on all the maps with Xs and circles. The Xs indicate sample locations with concentrations too low to be measured. The size of the circles on the maps indicate increasing levels of measured concentration. The largest circles are locations where the measurement exceeded maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) enforceable for drinking-water supplies. See the presentation MCLs and Action Levels for Private Well Drinking Water by Gary Ginsberg, Ph.D., (Connecticut Private Well Conference March 23, 2017) for more information on MCLs.

The background colors on the maps indicate the distribution across the state of major bedrock categories. The colors indicate how many samples (as a percentage) from that rock formation exceeded maximum contaminant levels. Data indicated higher levels were associated with 81 different individual types of bedrock in Connecticut; however, bedrock type alone was not always predictive of higher or lower concentrations.

"For example, some major bedrock categories that had generally low levels of contamination also had a few isolated wells with high concentrations of arsenic or uranium," said Sarah Flanagan, USGS Hydrologist and lead author of the study.

For more information contact your local health department/district or the Department of Public Health - Private Well Program at 860-509-7296. CTDPH also offers much more information in their document Arsenic in Drinking Water - The Standard for Arsenic in Public Drinking Water Systems.

Feel free also to call Tony Mitchell at 860-361-9349 or email tony@riversalliance.org at Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

February 15, 2017

Comments Due on the Integrated Water Quality Report (IWQR)

slideshow of images from IWQR

Draft State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report (IWQR) is available for public review and comment. Comments due Mar 13. Hearing Mar 1


This report will tell you whether a river, stream, lake, cove, or estuary has been assessed under the Clean Water Act, whether it has been found to be impaired or not, and whether remediation efforts are being considered, under way, or completed. For any kind of planning, action, advocacy, or application for funding, this is vitally important information. The report is lengthy and complex. The most efficient way to gather information about a water body of interest to you is to enter the name of the water body in the "Find" box, and keep hitting "Next" until the end. You may be surprised by what you find, or disagree, or be pleased, or want to urge DEEP to make a correction or to do more. That is why there is a comment period. DEEP puts major resources into this effort, and we should respond.

Section 305(b) of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each state to monitor, assess and report on the quality of its waters relative to designated uses established in accordance with the Connecticut Water Quality Standards. Section 303(d) of the CWA requires each state to list waters not meeting water quality standards and prioritize those waters for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development or other management. Reporting for these waters is submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) every two years.

The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) is making available the draft State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report (IWQR) for public review and comment. Interested persons may obtain copies of the draft IWQR on the CT DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?q=325610. The IWQR has been prepared by the CT DEEP to fulfill requirements of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) under Sections 305(b) and 303(d). The final document will be submitted to the EPA following the DEEP's consideration of comments received.

Written comments on the draft IWQR must be received at CT DEEP by March 13, 2017, in order to be considered prior to submission of the final IWQR to U.S. EPA. Comments should be directed to Erik Bedan electronically at erik.bedan@ct.gov or in writing to CT DEEP, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Planning and Standards Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127.

A public informational meeting has been scheduled for March 1, 2017. at 1:30 p.m. in the McCarthy Auditorium located on the 5th floor of the CT DEEP headquarters at 79 Elm Street in Hartford. Questions should be directed to Erik Bedan at erik.bedan@ct.gov or 860-424-3386.

 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality


Aug 25, 2016

Chemical Spill at Light Metals Coloring Company; Southington Shuts Town Wells

Here is a statement issued by the Town of Southington Water Department:

ATTENTION Town of Southington Residents: Chemical Spill at Light Metals Coloring Company - 270 Spring Street, Southington, CT
At this time the Southington Water Department (SWD)is working closely with the Town's Emergency Response Team to monitor the remediation process for the chemical spill at Light Metals Coloring Company located at 270 Spring Street.
As a precaution two of the SWD's wells were temporarily shut down until there was a better understanding of the amount, type and the remediation process of the chemical spill. We are confident the Town of Southington's emergency response team has the situation under control and that there will be no adverse impact to the Town of Southington's drinking water supply.
However, as a safeguard SWD will be conducting a series of water quality samples to ensure the water supply remains safe for consumption. Throughout last night, and continuing throughout this response, air, water and soil sampling have been conducted around the site of the spill. At this time, we are confident that every action has been taken to protect the public health and the environment.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely, Frederick W. Rogers Shane Lockwood Superintendent Director Southington Water Department Plainville-Southington Health Southington, CT 06489 District P.O. Box 111 860-276-6275 860-628-5593

Links to some information about the company:
List of Contaminated sites from DEEP: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/site_clean_up/sites/sites_s-z.pdf,
Draft Permit: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/public_notice_attachments/draft_permits/2013march7lightmetalscoloringcoincdraftpermit.pdf

River Alliance of CTT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

July 1, 2016

CT DEEP Preliminary Waters for Action Plan Development

DEEP's new Integrated Water Resource Management approach is DEEP's plan to guide watershed and embayment restoration and preservation planning. They developed a system to identify the first group of watersheds and embayments by seeking objective data to identify which of 184 watersheds and embayments could most successfully be restored or preserved. The main DEEP page for this program is at http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?Q=580936.

A number of people in various groups have found the volume of material presented to be overwhelming, so here are our answers to some common questions. For more help, please contact DEEP's Chris Sullivan in the Planning and Standards Division at christopher.sullivan@ct.gov or 860-424-3514. As always, Rivers Alliance is also happy to help.

1. Are these the only waters that will be restored or preserved?

The DEEP main page for the program addresses that question:

While many waters could benefit from developing a plan for restoration and protection, this initial list of waters represent areas where we may develop plans over the next few years while maintaining overall statewide water quality efforts. This list of potential waters will be refined based on comments received from the public and on consideration of CT DEEP resources available to support developing and implementing these plans. Over time, additional waters will be identified for development of water quality restoration and protection plans.

2. What river watersheds have been proposed for action plans?

Here are the river watersheds proposed for restoration and preservation planning from DEEP's Integrated Water Resource Management Approach to Restoring Water Quality. This list is arranged by those proposed for restoration planning, then protection planning.

DEEP's map of these watersheds and also the embayments follows the list.

Watershed ID Watershed Name Protect or Restore
011000050903 Pomperaug Restore
011000050801 Headwaters Still River Restore
011000050802 Limekiln Brook - Still River Restore
011000060103 Outlet Saugatuck River Restore
011000060202 Norwalk River Restore
011000040302 West River  Restore
011000040103 Headwaters Quinnipiac Restore
011000040105 Outlet Quinnipiac River Restore
011000040206  Farm River Restore
010802070602 Mill Brook - Farmington Restore
010802050203 Lower Scantic River Restore
011000030304 Niantic River Restore
011000030301 Mystic River Restore
011000030303 Stony Brook - Frontal Fishers Island Sound Restore
010900050303 Pawcatuck River Restore
010900050301 Ashaway River Protect
011000020206  Sawmill Brook - Natchaug River Protect
011000020205 Mount Hope River Protect
010802050903 Eightmile River Protect
010802050504 Roaring Brook Protect
010802070204 Lower West Branch Farmington River Protect
011000060102 Headwaters Saugatuck River Protect
011000050306  Carse Brook - Housatonic River Protect

Source: Table 7: DRAFT Preliminary list of waters for Action Plan Development by 2022 in their Technical Support Document: Identifying Watersheds for Restoration and Protection Action Plans with Connecticut Integrated Water Resource Management Efforts CT DEEP May 2016, pages 19-20 (of 50).

Click on the map to get a larger version in a new tab
CT DEEP's Preliminary Waters for Action Plan Development Map

3. How did a particular watershed get included or excluded from this list?

The watersheds and embayments on the list had the highest rankings for either restoration or protection after combining scores from three categories of indicators for three areas of concern.

The complex ranking system DEEP used to identify the best watersheds for protection or for restoration was based on information about every watershed from a variety of sources to compare all 184 watersheds and embayments and assign scores in 3 categories:

In the ecological category higher scores mean that watershed has higher quality and more valuable resources, and is less degraded by pollution and development. Higher scores (smaller numerical rank 1-184) are good.

The stressor category includes indicators that would create negative impacts or stresses to a waterbody. These impacts decrease the water quality in a watershed and impact the value of natural resources in the affected area. Higher scores (larger numerical rank 1-184) are bad.

Social category has indicators that show existing levels of data collection and activities to clean up or protect a watershed, as well as indicators for citizen use of aquatic resources. Higher scores (smaller numerical rank 1-184) are good.

The scores for every watershed or embayment in each of these three categories are used to rank the watersheds and embayments 1 through 184 in each of six different areas of concern:

  1. General Watershed Health indicators for restoration

  2. Stormwater indicators for restoration

  3. Nutrient indicators for restoration

  4. General Watershed Health indicators for protection

  5. Stormwater indicators for protection

  6. Nutrient indicators for protection

The 15 river watersheds chosen for restoration planning are those with the highest combined ranks in the restoration areas of concern. The eight river watersheds chosen for preservation are those with the highest combined ranks for the preservation areas of concern.

4. Where can I find the scores for my watershed?

Six tables showing the scores in the six areas of concern for all the watersheds and embayments are in a separate document on DEEP's webpage called Appendix E. The following chart has links to the first page of each table in a new tab. If the link does not bring you to that table at first, try refresh or close the tab and try again. Or just scroll down to the page indicated.

To find how a particular watershed or embayment ranked compared with the 183 others listed in each table, go to that table and scroll down or use the "Find" command (usually Ctrl-f) to search for the name of that watershed. Be careful, though, to make sure you are still in the table of interest, because each watershed is listed in the document six times.

Table 1. General Watershed Health Restoration Ranks (pages 1-8 of 48) Table 4. General Watershed Health Protection Rankings (pages 24-32 of 48)
Table 2. Stormwater Restoration Rankings (pages 9-16 of 48) Table 6. Stormwater Protection Rankings (pages 41-48 of 48)
Table 3. Nutrient Restoration Rankings (pages 17-23 of 48) Table 5. Nutrient Protection Rankings (pages 33-40 of 48)

Lots of information about all the watersheds can be found on what DEEP calls their Story Map, if you zoom in to the actual maps. The first actual map is section six (click the middle dot on the right side of the window). The title of this section is Fix What's Broken: Watersheds Selected for Restoration. Zooming in will show locations of Waste Water Treatment Plants, NPDES Permits, CT Federal Remediation Program, CT Remediation Feature Service - RCRA Corrective Action Program, CT Impaired Rivers 2014, Proposed CT Watershed Restoration and Impervious Cover. Be sure to click on the Legend to see what's what. The other actual maps in the other sections of the Story Map have other information; you must you must zoom in to those maps too.

 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

June 29, 2016

RA Comments on IWRM

Comments from Rivers Alliance of CT regarding the Integrated Water Resource Management project.

Thank you for presenting the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Vision for moving toward more effective implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in Connecticut. Rivers Alliance has signed on to the important comments from the Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), of which we are a member. We also support comments we have seen from Housatonic Valley Association (HVA). And we share interest in questions we have seen from Park Watershed.

We support the emphasis on prioritization and the inclusion of protection with restoration as twin goals.

We see opportunities for coordinating the IWRM with the Integrated Water Quality Report due in 2016 as per the CWA. That report includes the 305(b) and 303(d) lists, that is, evaluative listing of all state waters and impaired waters, as well as action planning for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and other measures for water quality improvement. When will this 2016 report be appearing? I gather DEEP has been using data and other information from the 2014 report for the IWRM. So updating may be required when both documents are released. 

The welcome emphasis on protection in the IWRM appears to reintroduce in many cases a former 305(b) designation: Threatened Waters. Rivers Alliance has repeatedly asked that the Threatened Waters designation be brought back because it is so important to know where prompt protective action might reverse a decline into impairment. Happily, in the IWRM analysis of protection needs, you have the data to substantiate Threatened Waters designations. So we ask that Threatened Waters be reinstated in the 2016 report.

Along with a number of our colleagues, we are unhappy with the very, very lengthy process envisioned in the IWRM for ongoing planning as contrasted with few specifics and virtually no timeline for action. We understand that DEEP's resources are limited, but that is all the more reason to allocate them more evenly between planning and implementation. The public is getting mixed CWA messages. Under the 319 program we are told these days: "no money for planning, only for implementation." Under the Vision, we are told: "keep planning." 

CAC offers good recommendations for ways DEEP can use its various authorities to support the goals in the IWRM. An example of the kind of situation in which the Vision could be applied is the power plant project in Oxford. Here, the proposal for a water cooling technology clearly was going to stress a watershed where there was ample, strong science showing flow impairment and ecological harm. Under the Vision, we hope DEEP will communicate with the Siting Council and others as appropriate about how to avoid deeper impairments. (One alternative might be air cooling or a hybrid system.)

We strongly recommend using thermal pollution as an indicator of impairment and healthy thermal numbers as indicators of potential high quality. Connecticut already has excellent, scientific thermal data. It is also one of the easiest measures for citizen scientists to master. Thermal metrics have broad applicability and are especially important to developing resilience in response to climate change. The data is relatively inexpensive to gather and outstandingly cost effective.

An impairment associated with thermal pollution is low stream flow and aquifer depletion. Thank you for IWRM's attention to free-flowing streams and altered streamflow. We ask that you increase attention to groundwater pumping and contamination as threats to the health of the state's water resources. 

Finally, we regret that we have thus far not been able to evaluate your priority rankings for upland watersheds in any systemic way. The rankings of the top 20 or so look pretty good, but we have not had much of a response from our network. We count on local experts for confirmation of our impressions. I believe one problem is that your website, to which we referred people, is difficult to use. People can't easily see what's new and what's important.

For our own part, we have questions about the underlying data for, say, recreational uses, impervious surface, local watershed groups. Will it be possible to get more information on this data and how it was gathered as need arises? In this connection, the many thousands of pieces of information in the IWRM and the biannual reports raise the likelihood of inconsistencies, double counting, and so forth.

We foresee that, as the IWRM is used, numerous desirable data corrections and enhancements will emerge. It is our understanding that the document can be revised annually. We ask that you set up a simple, efficient way to make changes. 

Thank you for this work.

 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Water Quality

June 9, 2016

DEEP Seeks Public Comment on CT's Integrated Water Resource Management Approach to Restoring Water Quality

A recent notice from CT DEEP's Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse is asking for people to analyze their new system and to provide comment. A core component of this process is to develop action plans for the bodies of water on the map below (click the map to go to their webpage). Here are excerpts from their announcement :

Connecticut is taking a new approach to restoring water quality in our rivers, streams, lakes, local harbors, and Long Island Sound. This enhanced approach, called Integrated Water Resource Management, will help focus state resources through a comprehensive review of information and by building on local partnerships to protect and restore water quality. Under the federal Clean Water Act, Connecticut creates pollution reduction plans called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to restore and protect water quality. A TMDL is a type of water quality action plan. Developing water quality action plans is not a new activity; however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the CT DEEP are taking a new approach to improve effectiveness while creating no new regulatory requirements.
Public comments will be collected from May 27, 2016, through June 30, 2016
Two public meetings will be held on June 20th. The first session will be held at CT DEEP HQ, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT in the Gina McCarthy Auditorium from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. A second session will be held at Goodwin College, One Riverside Drive, East Hartford, CT 06118 in the Auditorium from 6 to 8 in the evening.
These events will feature a presentation on the Integrated Water Resource Management process and identification of potential waters for development of water quality action plans (emphasis and map above added). Interested people are invited to attend and participate in the session. Written comments may be submitted through email or regular mail by June 30, 2016.
Questions and email comments should be submitted to christopher.sullivan@ct.gov; written comments may also be submitted to CT DEEP, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106 Attn: Mr. Christopher Sullivan, Planning and Standards Division.
Learn More
Please visit the CT DEEP Integrated Water Resource Management website (www.ct.gov/deep/iwrm) for more information including:
A Story Map that provides an interactive format for interested people to further understand the how the waters were selected for action plan development. There are also mapping tools available at this location for further investigating the information available in each of the current preliminary list of water bodies.
A fact sheet that gives an overview of the new approach to developing action plans.
Information on Integrated Water Resource Management in Connecticut.
Further details on the process for selecting waters for action plan development: Technical Support Document:  Identifying Watershed for Restoration and Protection Plans with Connecticut Integrated Water Resource Management Efforts.