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Bill 1138, AAC (An Act Concerning) Connecticut's
Clean Energy Goals
1138, An Act Concerning Connecticut's Clean Energy Goals, has a number of good
features, but poses a serious threat to Connecticut's rivers. Under some
circumstances, it allows environmentally harmful hydropower to be sold in the
lucrative Class I market, which is presently reserved for environmentally
All the talk is about how this will be used for importing hydropower from
Canada. But 1138 also opens the door for bad hydro projects here in Connecticut.
Companies, municipalities, and individuals with river access here in this state
already argue that they should be given priority over Canadian hydropower. And a
cost benefit analysis is likely to show that they can make more money by
building sub-par facilities than by building more expensive first-rate,
environment-friendly facilities, especially IF they can sell a portion of the
electricity at premium prices.
In recent years, we have seen aggressive efforts by corporations,
municipalities, and individuals to persuade authorities to support questionable
hydropower projects. The arguments are: Why shouldn't the money stay here in
Connecticut? My town needs low-cost electricity? We have 200 rivers, why can't
we use them more? Let's keep the jobs here. What's wrong with dams? Proponents
of harmful hydropower make these arguments to their Congressional delegates,
state legislators, DEEP commissioners, etc. They are politically powerful
If 1138 goes through in its present form, more bad hydropower will be built here
in Connecticut. Rivers Alliance recognizes that we face a global warming crisis.
We have supported an expansion of Class I hydropower from a limit of 5MW per
facility to a limit of 30MW. We do not oppose importing Class II hydropower.
But we strongly oppose allowing the sale of river-killing Class II hydro
in the Class I market. If you want hydropower here in Connecticut to be
environmentally benign, then speak up please. Many of you have already done so.
Thanks so much.
At this point, the most effective action is probably to call the governor's
office. The message is: I care about Connecticut's rivers. I oppose 1138 , which
encourages more harmful, Class II hydropower here in Connecticut. NO CLASS II
HYDRO SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE SOLD AS CLASS I. Here are the numbers for the
governor's office: TEL: (860) 566-4840 TOLL-FREE: (800) 406-1527
For more information call
Rivers Alliance at 860-361-9349 or email
OTHER PRESSING ISSUES
Council of Environmental Quality Comments on the EIE for
the Diversion of Water from the Farmington River Watershed to UConn/Storrs
Comments on the MDC’s Proposal to Divert Water Across the State to UConn
In an unusual move, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) is seeking to
divert up to five million gallons of water per day out of the Farmington River
watershed across the state to UConn’s Storrs campus. Their proposal can be found
Until December 11, just prior to a public hearing on the plan, the Farmington
River Watershed Association was the lead advocacy group speaking out in defense
of the watershed’s water resources. However, MDC has required them to cease
opposing the diversion because there is a signed agreement from 1998 that may
preclude FRWA from any kind of opposition to this diversion. Therefore, FRWA has
removed diversion-related advocacy materials from its web pages (click here to see that agreement and
Attachments A and B in a .tif file,
MDC service area as a .jpg).
Rivers Alliance is one
of the many friends of FRWA trying to help out until the legal questions are
FRWA has had to suspend its online petition that was to be
delivered to the UConn Office of Environmental Policy about the MDC Proposal to
provide drinking water to UConn and Mansfield. If you previously signed the FRWA
petition, we cannot guarantee at this time that your comment (if any) will be
The Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on Friday, March
15, 2013 at 10:30 A.M. in Room 2B of the LOB. Please submit
testimony electronically by 9:00 A.M . to email@example.com. In addition
to submitting testimony electronically, anyone who speaks is also asked to
submit 5 copies of their testimony at the time of sign-up.
Testimony submitted after this time may not be distributed until after the
hearing. Sign-up for the hearing will be from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. in the
First Floor Atrium of the LOB. The first hour of the hearing is reserved for
Legislators, Constitutional Officers, State Agency Heads and Chief Elected
Municipal Officials. Speakers will be limited to three minutes of testimony.
Bills will be heard in the order listed on the agenda. Unofficial sign-up sheets
have no standing with the Committee.
Public officials speak first (usually for an hour or hour and a half). Then
public and officials take turns. Hearing will go in order of bills on the agenda
(as posted by the Committee, not in the Bulletin). Therefore there is no
particular advantage to arriving early for sign-in. 9:30 to 9:50 is fine. The
UConn bill is number 3 of 13.
If you wish to testify, please send testimony by email before 9 a.m. Also bring
5 copies. If you cannot email testimony but wish to speak, bring 10 copies. If
you wish only to mail in testimony, just send one email; no extra copies needed.
The official description of the bill and the text can be found at
This bill dates from work done almost 10 years ago, when the Attorney General
determined that UConn was not a water company, as defined in the statutes. The
most pressing issue then (and still important now) was the freedom this gave
UConn to continue to develop in Class I and Class II like lands. Water companies
are required to strongly protect source-water watershed lands (called Class I
and II). Rivers Alliance will testify on the importance of source water
protection, but even more pressing now is the umbrella issue of weak planning
for prudent water management in the Storrs region and statewide. We will focus
Here is a link to a Farmington Patch article:
You may learn more about this proposal by visiting this link:
Written comments should be sent to:
Name: Jason M. Coite
Agency: University of
Connecticut – Office of Environmental Policy
Address: 31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055
Storrs, Connecticut 06269
Important Recent News and Documents
Comments on S.B.840
To the Joint Committee on Finance,
Revenue and Bonding and the Higher Education Committee:
I appreciate the opportunity to provide
written comments on S.B. 840.
In their published comments, Senators
Beth Bye and Alan Maynard have raised serious problems relating to the high cost
of the proposal and its neglect of other state institutions of higher education. I would like to address another
serious problem: the environmental impact of the bill’s funding to increase
water sources for UCONN.
The UCONN Next Generation bill includes
funding to increase water sources for UCONN.
Although details of the water project are still ostensibly subject to an
Environmental Impact Evaluation process, one finalist among the proposals
involves the Metropolitan District Commission building a 17 mile pipeline at taxpayer expense from its water mains in
East Hartford to UCONN and Mansfield.
initial proposal is to provide 1.93 million gallons a day (mgd) from the MDC’s
Barkhamsted Reservoir on the Farmington River and Nepaug Reservoir on its
tributary. The 1.93 mgd would
further diminish river flows which the DEEP has noted already are so low as to
impair riverine habitat.
because the pipeline
would run through sparsely developed areas not now served by a public water
supply, the risk is that establishing a water main would promote sprawl. The MDC
charter requires the MDC to provide water to entities along such a pipeline
should they request it. The Council
on Environmental Quality has warned that such pipeline-driven development would
fly in the face of the State Plan of Conservation and Development.
There are no data on how much demand
might result and therefore no indication of how much additional pressure would
be put on the beleaguered Farmington River.
From the point of view of the Lower Farmington River/Salmon Brook Wild and
Scenic Study Committee, which I chair, the issue of development along the
pipeline is mainly its potential impact on the mainstem of the Farmington River
which we will hope will receive its Wild and Scenic designation this year. In
the comments it submitted to the UCONN EIE process, the Study Committee
highlighted deep concerns about harm to the river if the MDC/UCONN diversion
were pursued. Eleven Farmington
Valley towns expressed their opposition to the MDC diversion proposal because of
the potential negative economic, environmental and social impacts of further
diminution of already inadequate flows. I have attached their comments so that
you can appreciate the extent of community unhappiness. At a public hearing in January,
scores of organizations and individuals spoke in opposition to the proposal
including Senator Kevin Witkos and Representative John Hampton. No one spoke in
From my personal point
of view, and not speaking on behalf of the Study Committee, I would like to see
the state legislature require UCONN, which sells water but is not regulated as a
water utility, to submit to the regulations of the Department of Public Health
like other water utilities. Also,
the people of Connecticut need the state legislature to pass funding and
enabling legislation for statewide water planning, not merely regional water
planning. (Note that although the state
legislature called for regional planning in a 1985 law, the Northeast Water
Management Region in which UCONN is located still hasn’t met to develop a plan.)
Also, in considering
S.B 840, legislators should ask why the technology park that UCONN wants needs
to be in Storrs. How about locating
it in a town with an adequate water supply and a need for development? UCONN could meet its technology
park goal in a way that was environmentally sustainable rather than exacerbating
its Storrs water supply problem.
The Farmington Valley
towns, in conjunction with the Farmington River Watershed Association and Rivers
Alliance have worked very hard to protect the Farmington River. The MDC/UCONN water supply proposal
reflects both UCONN’s and the MDC’s ongoing desire for growth beyond what is
sustainable. The MDC says it has “excess” water in its reservoirs. It is encouraged by its charter,
granted by the state, to release the excess to sustain the river, but it does
not do so. Giving the “excess” water
back to the river, rather than exporting it halfway across the state, would address DEEP environmental
concerns about lack of flow. Also,
as climate change continues to diminish the river’s capacity, the MDC could
reduce releases to the river to meet its present obligations. If the water were committed to UCONN
and untold numbers of customers along the new pipeline, supply to its current
customers could be jeopardized. The
MDC might say this would never happen, but as Caleb Saville, the MDC’s legendary
engineer, wrote, “In water works… never
is a comparatively short time”.
Most of the Farmington
Valley towns receive no benefit at all from the MDC system which provides water
to much of the greater Hartford area. Nor are the Valley towns represented on
its Board of Commissioners. We rely
on our river too, for recreation and the associated income as well as quality of
life, for wildlife, for waste water assimilation and for irrigating farm fields.
As you consider S.B. 840, please keep in mind that UCONN’s growth should not
occur at the expense of the health of the Farmington River or of the economic
and environmental well-being of the Farmington Valley towns.
9 Stodmor Rd.
Simsbury, CT 06070
Letter from the Municipal Leaders of the Farmington Valley
January 22, 2013
Mr. Jason M. Coite
University of Connecticut Office of Environmental Policy
31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055 Storrs, CT 06269-3055
Dear Mr. Coite,
As the municipal leaders ofthe Farmington Valley towns, we would like to express
our appreciation to the University of Connecticut for agreeing to extend the
comment period and for holding this hearing tonight on the Metropolitan District
Commission plan to divert water from the Farmington River watershed to supply
the growing needs ofthe Storrs campus. We appreciate the openness ofthe process.
We also write to express our serious concerns regarding the MDC proposal to take
water from the Nepaug and Barkhamsted reservoirs and, as stated in the MC
strategic plan, to tap the west branch of the Farmington River ifneeded. We
believe this plan will have an adverse impact on the residents of the
Farrnington Valley. While we support the water resource needs ofthc
Storrs-Mansfield region, we believe that better and cheaper alternatives to the
MDC proposal exist. We also believe that a long term plan should be in place
prior to the installation ofa 20-mile pipe.
As you may know, the towns in the Farmington Valley and the Capitol Region work
very hard to plan and to act on a regional basis. In contrast, the UConn-MDC
proposal seeks a massive transfer of resources from one part of the state to
another without any thought-through and agreed-to plan.
It its comments to UCONN, the state Council on Environmental Quality asked,
“What is the plan that the proposed project supports?” The Council found that it
was “not clear as to what, if any, regional water plan this project advances”
and observed that it “has long been established in state policy that major
expansions ofservice areas should not be conducted project by project, for
economic and environmental reasons, but should be conducted to further
well-conceived regional plans.”
We respectfully submit that the water needs ofUConn-Storrs and Mansfield should
be done in the context ofa state plan to address regional water needs and not as
a reactive quick-fix. The MDC plan should not be implemented before a regional
analysis and impact study have been completed.
Second, we are concerned that the UConn-MDC proposal would have severe
environmental effects on the Farmington River based on the proposal to install a
The law provides that MDC must “supply water to any inhabitants ofthe towns
through which the line of main pipes ...shall pass”. Thus, the MDC proposal
would expand its public water service to each of the towns between East Hartford
and Mansfield. That would bring development pressures of the very sort that the
draft State Conservation and Development Policies Plan for 2013-2018 sought to
avoid. And this to an area much ofwhich is classified by the present State Plan
ofConservation and Development as no- build or low development.
Third, we are concerned that the UCoim-MDC proposal is inconsistent with the
State Plan of Conservation and Development. The official Council on
Environmental Quality emphasized that the Plan ofConservation and Development is
not merely a technicality, noting: “The Council is not aware of any provisions
in statute that would allow an agency to implement an infrastructure project
that is not in conformance with the State Plan.”
Fourth, we suggest that UConn’s Enviromental Impact Evaluation, the “EIE”, is
not a sufficient basis for decision making.
We know that seven towns could be added to the MDC service area, but the EIE
does not begin to try to calculate how much water demand would result.
Even so, the EIE assures us that there is plenty of extra water in the
Fannington River, but it does so in reliance on a study ofwater flows in the
West Branch ofthe Farmington based on flows from 1970 to 1990. Recent experience
has shown this data to be obsolete. DEEP staff comrnented in Simsbury Patch in
September 2012 that the water in the Farmington was both low and abnormally warm
this past summer, negatively impacting fishing and fish habitat. Businesses such
as tubing also suffered declines according to the report.
The National Park Service looked at the EIE, because its review would be
required before any federal government permits or other involvement such as
funding. The National Park Service comments to UConn basically said that there
was not enough clearly stated pertinent information in the EIE to permit them to
properly evaluate it.
Finally, the Farmington River is already under stress and the MDC proposal would
only exacerbate the situation. The Farmington River is an important resource for
fisheries, canoeing, kayaking and tubing as well as an important process for
municipal sewage treatment plants. The upper River is currently designated “Wild
and Scenic” with the designation currently pending for the lower River.
The UCONN-MDC assertion that there is excess water in the Farmington does not
ring true with those of us who know the river. Trout fishing was suspended last
year as low water levels and high water temperatures threatened fish survival,
even though weather conditions were not unusual enough to be classified as a
drought. We have read that the MDC has to make cash payments to the operator of
Rainbow Dam because it cannot meet its contractual commitment to deliver water
for hydroelectric generation.
Climate change has already taken a toll on the river, and this is not a time to
take away more water and thus make it more vulnerable to the additional climate
change challenges that we know are coining our way.
The bottom line for the residents of the Farmington Valley is that the MDC
proposal is not supported by proper planning, proper scientific and economic
analysis and violates state environmental policy. We urge you to pursue
preferred alternatives to address the needs of the University of Connecticut. We
also request that if further analysis of the MCD option is pursued, the public
should be given additional opportunity to comment on any new information.
We look forward to working with you on this important issue.
Mary A. Glasman
On behalf of: Brandon Robertson Avon Town Manager, Kathleen Egan Farmington Town
Manager, Jeffrey Hogan Chairman Farmington Town Council, Richard Barlow Canton
First Selectman, Donald Stein Barkhamsted First Selectman, William Smith Granby
Town Manager, James Hayden East Granby First Selectman, Thomas McKeon Colebrook
First Selectman, Theodore Shafer Burlington First Selectman, Dan Jerram New
Hartford First Selectman
RESOLUTION – Regarding the Farmington River Watershed and MDC Proposal to Supply
Water to The University of Connecticut
WHEREAS, the scenic, recreational, commercial, and natural resources of the
Farmington River are of major significance to the Town of Bloomfield and its
citizens and should not be put in potential jeopardy; and
WHEREAS, the Farmington River is already under stress from low water flow and
higher temperatures; and
WHEREAS, the Metropolitan District (MDC) has proposed to construct 17 miles of
pipeline and pumping stations to deliver water from the Farmington River
Watershed (Connecticut River Basin) to Storrs/Mansfield (Thames River Basin) to
service The University of Connecticut and Town of Mansfield; and
WHEREAS, the proposed MDC expansion, by advancing an interbasin water transfer,
is contrary to the Regional Plan of Conservation and Development of the Capital
Region Council of Governments; and
WHEREAS, it is unclear whether the MDC, as a regional non-profit company tasked
to supply clean water to its eight member towns (including Bloomfield), should
be involved in a massive infrastructural development in the eastern part of the
state, outside its service area and outside the Connecticut River Basin; and
WHEREAS, officials with the towns of Farmington, Simsbury, Canton, and Valley
towns have all voiced serious objections to the MDC plan; and
WHEREAS, Bloomfield’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee (CEEC)
unanimously opposes the MDC plan; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town of Bloomfield hereby declares that
the Farmington River is a natural resource to value and respect and joins with
our sister communities in the Watershed to call for re-evaluation of the
proposed MDC expansion, restraint on the transfer of Farmington River Watershed
water outside the Watershed and Connecticut River Basin, and the need for
comprehensive state-wide water planning and regulation.
Here is a fabulous letter from
Simsbury Conservation Commission to MDC. It
summarizes the case for protecting the Farmington River watershed before
5 March 2013
Mr. Charles P. Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer
The Metropolitan District Commission
555 Main Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Dear Mr. Sheehan:
The Simsbury Conservation Commission urges the
Metropolitan District Commission to take all reasonable and prudent steps to
institute a program under which water in the Farmington River East Branch
reservoirs which is in excess of the district’s current water supply needs is
released to the river in a measured way in order to enhance and normalize flows
in the river’s mainstem, rather than seeking new customers in UCONN and
Mansfield and selling the water to them. Our reasoning is as follows.
Section 6-4 of the MDC Charter authorizes (one
might even say encourages) the district to “use any part of the water
therein stored, which is not needed for its water supply system, for the purpose
of returning to said Farmington river at convenient times water… for the purpose
of maintaining in said river a more constant flow regardless of seasonal
variation….” We think the legislative intent is clear.
Statements made by MDC representatives in support
of the proposal to divert water to UCONN and Mansfield affirm that there is
excess water, at least five million gallons per day and perhaps as much as
twelve million gallons per day.
That the water is needed by the river is
confirmed by a December 2012 memorandum from the Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection Inland Fisheries Division, which observed, “[T]he East
Branch of the Farmington River from the mouth of the mainstem Farmington River
upstream to Lake McDonough outlet dam (1.1 miles) and the Nepaug River from the
mouth at confluence with the mainstem Farmington River upstream to the Nepaug
Reservoir Outlet Dam (0.9 miles) do not meet water quality standards for aquatic
life and recreation.” The East
Branch of the Farmington and the Nepaug River have long been prominently
featured on the state's 303(d) list of impaired waters. Citizens of Simsbury and
other towns along the mainstem of the river have long complained of low flow
The DEEP memorandum cited above points out that
“[i]n previous review of MDC Water Supply Plans (1997, 2003, and 2008) the
Inland Fisheries Division encouraged the MDC to undertake a comprehensive
analysis of water allocation throughout their service area. That analysis should be used to
develop a water management strategy to balance consumptive water supply needs
while providing sufficient instream flows to restore riverine habitat to the
extent possible.” The thrust of
state policy in the past 15 years has been that surplus water should be used at
least in part to provide relief to low-flow streams in the watershed. Similarly,
the new state Plan of Conservation and Development now before the legislature
calls for balancing the competing needs of water for human consumption, habitat
sustainability and the like. We
share the view that the condition of the river bespeaks the need for a
rebalancing in favor increased flows to promote habitat restoration and,
The other principal source of water for the
mainstem of the river is the West Branch, which is already regulated, in part,
to support instream flows. However,
in recent times the amount of water released from the West Branch has fallen far
short of predicted and needed levels. As you know, even the West Branch is suffering from low flows and high
Uncertainty about the prospective impact of
climate change on the river should make the district and policymakers very
reluctant to enter a commitment to UCONN and Mansfield. Caleb Saville wrote, “It
is axiomatic in hydraulic engineering that the worst flood and the most severe
drought will someday be surpassed.”
In its comments on the proposed diversion, the United States Department of
Interior, National Park Service, wrote, “Evidence we see on the Farmington River
includes recurring summer drought conditions and declining water levels due to
decreased rainfall and snowmelt and groundwater recharge during critical
periods….These factors… have not been analyzed or addressed in considering the
available water supply of the Farmington basin.” The Inland Fisheries Division memorandum opined, “Increased withdrawals
of 1.93 mgd may further exacerbate already degraded downstream riverine habitats
in both the East Branch Farmington and Nepaug Rivers.” Once committed to UCONN and
Mansfield, the district would be hard pressed to reverse course even if
conditions worsened. On the other
hand, the measured releases that we propose could be suspended or discontinued
when conditions required.
We appreciate the business exigencies faced by
the district. The MDC strategic plan
is forthright in stating its objective of growing its customer base in order to
sell more water. Enrolling UCONN and
Mansfield as customers and selling them what now looks like excess water might
seem like the business school prescription for declining revenues. We think it is an irresponsible
approach from an environmental point of view and inconsistent with the MDC’s
duty of stewardship of the river.
Moreover, the strategic plan language “to optimize use of water assets and grow
revenue” suggests that the water is the MDC’s asset. It is not. The MDC does not own the water; it is
a public trust resource.
The river is suffering from low flows. The MDC’s failure to use East Branch
water releases to enhance and normalize those flows as the legislature invited
it to do in Section 6-4 of the Charter is arguably one cause of the problem. We urge you to take steps to use the
excess water in the East Branch to enhance and normalize instream flows in the
mainstem. The alternative,
committing the water to UCONN and Mansfield, would make it permanently
unavailable either to support the river or to serve your existing water supply
customers if climate conditions continue to worsen.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Simsbury Conservation Commission /
Cc: First Selectman Mary Glassman, Governor Dannel Malloy, Commissioner Daniel Esty,
Senator Kevin Witkos, Representative John Hampton,
Mr. Paul H. Mounds, Jr.
Rivers Allliance of Connecticut Testimony Submitted
There are numerous water problems in the UConn area. The EIE addresses three
proposals for obtaining more supply. At this time, Rivers Alliance has submitted
the following brief remarks, focusing solely on the MDC proposal, which raises
statewide policy concerns. Other comments follow.
Dear Mr. Coite:
Thank you for
the opportunity to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact for UConn’s
Additional Source of Water Supply.
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut is the
statewide, non-profit coalition of river organizations, individuals, and
businesses formed to protect and enhance Connecticut's waters by promoting sound
water policies, uniting and strengthening the state's many river groups, and
educating the public about the importance of water stewardship. Our 450 members
include almost all of the state’s river and watershed conservation groups,
representing many thousand Connecticut residents.
We are familiar with UConn’s
water problems, having served on the Fenton River Technical Advisory Committee
and attended presentations on the supply issues and options. But here we will
comment only on Alternative 4, which stands out as ill-advised. Our remarks will
1. Large inter-basin transfers should be avoided if at all possible.
This is state policy. The requested withdrawal is 5 mgd!
2. The Farmington River
is a magnet for tourists and wildlife, a state treasure, with Wild & Scenic
designation. MDC already uses on average 50 mgd. Further withdrawals might be an
economic benefit to MDC, but would threaten the economic well-being of the
3. We had a record period of drought this spring, and such dry periods are
likely to return. Flows dropped in the fall, too. The finding that the river is
not at this time ever short of water and never will be is at odds with current
observations and climate predictions.
4. MDC is asking to withdraw four
to five times the quantities needed by UConn. This appears to be an
opportunistic maneuver to get permission to sell large volumes outside the
5. The MDC project costs more than necessary to solve the stated
6. The state policy with respect to water-supply service areas is
jumbled. This will make matters worse. We urge you to exercise good water
stewardship, and try something more prudent.
Thanks for your attention,
Miner, Executive Director
Former (and first) Rivers Alliance Executive Director Sarah
Faulkner speaks out against the proposed diversion of water from Hartford to
UConn Storrs. Click here for link to Courant article.
Farmington Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited Testimony
January 2, 2013
Mr. Jason M. Coite
University of Connecticut – Office of Environmental Policy
31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055
Storrs, CT 06269-3055
Dear Mr. Coite:
As President of the Farmington Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, I
am writing to comment on the Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) prepared as
part of UCONN’s effort to assess water supply options to support the town of
Mansfield and the University’s expansion plans, with particular focus on the MDC
We believe the EIE lacks information regarding a number of elements
which should be considered prior to making a decision regarding the selection of
an alternative to solve UCONN’s water problems.
Initially UCONN demand was estimated at .5 MM to 1.0 million
gallons per day (mgd), but that number has now escalated to 1.9 mgd peak day
demand. It is not clear where the
increase in demand came from, but significant increases in projected demand may
have a bearing on the alternatives which are considered.
With the likely prospect that towns along the 20 mile pipeline
proposed by MDC could have interest in purchasing water from MDC, the utility
has expressed interest in selling 5 mgd.
We understand that Coventry and Tolland have expressed strong interest in
tapping into the pipeline, but neither has been willing to disclose how much
demand they might represent. We
understand long term forecasts of population and business growth in the region
between Manchester and Storrs for the next 50 to 100 years are inherently
difficult to construct, but if demand for whatever reason exceeds supply, then
the risk of diversion from the West Branch of the Farmington River increases. The margin of safety versus 12 mgd of
excess capacity is obviously reduced at 5 mgd compared to 1.9 mgd. According to the Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ), “The powerful and highly probable effects of water
mains on land use patterns is hinted at but not fully described in the EIE. The decision maker surely will want
to know what effects the alternatives will have on the future development
patterns of the region.”
The EIE assumes that adequate flow in the West Branch can be
maintained based on a study using flow data from 1970 to 1990. Given recent changes in climate, the
near disaster during this past summer, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and the dry
period in 2010, we question whether the 1970-1990 period data adequately
reflects violent storm events and long periods of extremely dry weather that
seem to be more the norm. West
Branch economic activity generated by anglers and boaters is significant when
flows are adequate, but that activity declines to near zero during a dry August
We do not find in the EIE sufficient details regarding the proposed
pipeline ownership, financing, debt service plans and contractual relationships. It is not clear whether it would be
fair to the taxpayers of Connecticut if they were on the hook for debt service
for a pipeline that would enable a private entity to expand its service area
without making the capital investment required to do so. It would seem particularly unfair if
all state taxpayers financed a project that benefitted a small portion of the
state’s residents. It might also
raise a question if UCONN stood behind the debt issued at a time when the State
faces significant budget problems. A
pipeline would appear to be the type of investment that should be financed in
and owned by the private sector without burdening State taxpayers.
The CEQ has identified many places in the EIE where the project,
and especially the MDC alternative, would not conform to the State Conservation
and Development Policies Plan. The CEQ is not aware of any provisions in statute
that would allow an agency to implement an infrastructure project that is not in
conformance with the State Plan.
Other organizations including Rivers Alliance, the Connecticut Fly Fishermen’s
Association, the Willimantic River Alliance and the Naubesatuck Watershed
Council have commented on various deficiencies in the EIE. We believe that the EIE should be
revised to address all concerns and answer all questions posed by all interested
parties. We strongly recommend that
UCONN then provide adequate opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in
the decision-making process about sharing their scarce resource after fully
understanding the environmental impact of relocating water resources.
While none of the proposed alternatives are without risk to one or
more watersheds, the primary focus of Farmington Valley Trout Unlimited is to
protect the West Branch and its watershed on behalf of recreational users,
businesses, communities and families who enjoy this wonderful resource.
MDC maintains that today
it has 12 MM gallons per day (mgd) of drinking water available for sale each day
and that after sales to UCONN/Mansfield, there would be an adequate reserve
margin. We assume the MDC analysis
takes into account the dry conditions of late summer that seem to be more
prevalent in recent years, and which are, frankly, a growing concern.
Under the MDC proposal,
drinking water would be supplied to UCONN from Barkhamsted and Nepaug
Reservoirs, fed by the East Branch of the Farmington and Nepaug Rivers,
respectively. It appears that In the
near term, the MDC proposal would not jeopardize the West Branch of the
Farmington River which is supplied from Otis Reservoir, Colebrook Reservoir and
Goodwin Dam. However, anglers,
boaters, local communities and businesses whose income is derived from the
Farmington River would be quick to point out the damaging economic and lifestyle
impact of low flows in the summers of 2012 and 2010. Those low flow periods in
late summer do jeopardize the quality of the world class fishery that DEP and
DEEP have spent the past 20 years building.
DEEP Inland Fisheries has stated: “.
. . any new out of basin
transfer of water from the MDC water system could hypothetically accelerate the
pace at which new water sources may be needed by the MDC in the future, and
should thus be viewed with caution if any of these new water sources could in
some way compromise the ecological, scenic, or recreational value of the West
Branch Farmington River.”
Our view is that high
quality drinking water will become a scarce resource as it has out west for
years, that MDC will be presented with numerous other opportunities to sell
excess water and that system demand will continue to expand. Our concern is that at some point, if
demand were to peak at the same time that reservoir volumes were reduced by dry
periods, MDC might be forced politically or operationally to tap the West Branch
to supply drinking water.
In the 1980’s, MDC
decided to build a pipeline between Colebrook and Barkhamsted Reservoirs after
becoming concerned about being able to supply growing demand in the Hartford
area. However, only 100’ of pipeline
was constructed before the proposal was abandoned. It is not difficult to see how
this project could be brought back to life.
In the 1990’s, MDC agreed that if Barkhamsted and Nepaug are insufficient
to supply MDC needs, it was contractually obligated to first go to the
Glastonbury well fields. However, we
understand there may be some contamination in the Glastonbury wells, so it is
unclear how much of that water source would actually be available. The West Branch then becomes next in
We can only conclude that
the MDC proposal creates significant long term risks for the economy of the
Farmington River Valley and recreational users of the Farmington River. We also believe that a
pipeline-supplied water source with capacity far in excess of that needed for
UCONN and Mansfield would not act as an incentive for either entity to conserve
a scarce resource and that other communities’ access to the proposed pipeline
could lead to further development that might not otherwise be supported by water
available from local sources. We
note that the EIE lacks information concerning the University’s water
conservation efforts and information concerning the restoration of aquatic life
in that section of the Fenton River pumped dry in 2005. Highly successful efforts at both
would bolster an argument that UCONN is doing everything it can to be a
responsible steward of the watershed.
At the end of the day, we recommend that UCONN resolve its water issues
through intensive conservation, water reuse and by purchasing water obtained
from local sources.
We would also comment
that the process to date has not been particularly transparent nor does it
appear designed to encourage comments from the many stakeholders involved. The December timing and location of
the public hearing ill afforded Farmington Valley residents the opportunity they
deserved to comment. While the
notice period for a public hearing and the timeframe for public comments were
significantly shorter than would be expected for a proposal with such long-term
and regional significance, the lack of complete information regarding
alternatives in the EIE has been equally detrimental to a thoughtful response.
Thank you for the
opportunity to comment.
William F. Case,
President Farmington Valley Trout
Mike Demicco, Margaret Miner, Bruce Rich
Mary Glassman, Margery Winters
The Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency has
submitted a letter
(click here) in opposition to the MDC proposal and
expressing concerns regarding the technology park project. The following are the
main points of our letter:
The MDC proposal
has not followed all applicable permitting processes;
The MDC proposal
is in conflict with the State POCD;
Impact Evaluation does not adequately address all environmental impacts (such as
traffic generation from development that will be served/induced by this
The location of
the proposed technology park fails to leverage other significant investments
being made by the State (such as the busway and upgrades to the New
Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line);
The money being
spent on the water proposal and the technology park could be used to greater
effect in an area that is already built up;
The proposal to
divert water from the Farmington River Watershed violates long standing State
policies against inter-basin transfers; and
CCRPA is concerned
that this expansion is unsustainable and will imperil the ability of existing
customers/users in the watershed to meet their needs in the future.
WINDHAM REGION COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS
Chaplin Columbia Coventry Hampton Lebanon Mansfield Scotland Willington Windham
REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION
December 6, 2012
University of Connecticut — Office of Environmental Policy
c/o Jason M. Coite
31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055
Storrs, Connecticut 06269
RE: UConn ElF for Potential Sources of Water Supply November 2012
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important document. The
Regional Planning Connnission of the Windham Region Council of Governments
reviewed the Environnmental Impact Evaluation for Potential Sources of Water
Supply for the University of Connecticut November 2012 at their December 5, 2012
meeting. The commission offers recommendations on how proposals such as the
evaluation of sources for UConn’s Water Supply can better meet the goals and
vision of the Windham Region Land Use Plan, WINCOG’s regional guide for
conservation and development. The recommendations of the Regional Planning
Commission are purely advisory.
- In November of 2011, the Windham Region Council of Governments adopted a
Resolution in Support of Watershed-Based Planning (to be attached). The
resolution states that the Windham Region Council of Govenments supports
watershed-based planning and the thoughtful consideration of the entire
watershed in its regional planning efforts. The Regional Planning Commission
feels that the proposals to obtain water through an interbasin transfer are not
consistent with this resolution and that an interbasin transfer to provide water
to Storrs should only be considered as a last resort if other sources of water
prove to be unfeasible.
- The Windham Region Land Use Plan 2010 identifies Storrs and Mansfield Four
Corners as the STORRS REGIONAL CENTER, one of the highest priorities for
development. The plan states that “New investment in infrastructure, if
necessary, should focus on improving infill capacity.” The Regional Planning
Commission feels that any investment in water supply infrastructure should be
directed to improving the infill capacity of the STORRS REGIONAL CENTER.
- The Regional Planning Commission does not support the provision of water for
additional development activities along roadway corridors that are designated as
RURAL CONSERVATION AREAS or PRESERVATION AREAS in the Windham Region Land Use
Plan 2010. Development in these areas and the extension of water supply
infrastructure to these areas is inconsistent with the Windham Region Land Use
- The Town of Mansfield has suggested an overlay zone to prohibit the
development of land along the pipeline in areas not identified as development
priorities. While this teclmique is not yet clearly described or proven to work,
the Regional Planning Commission supports the concept of a “No Water Service
Zone” to protect against the pressure to develop lands targeted for conservation
Questions concerning these comments should be directed to Jana Butts, AJCP at
the Windham Region Council of Governments.
Vote of the Regional Planning Commission on December 5, 2012, 5:1 with 3 absent.
Coventry: In Favor
Columbia: In Favor
Hampton: In Favor
Lebanon: In Favor
Windham: In Favor
* Mansfield is only opposed to the first bullet (interbasin transfer).
Disiribution: L. Painter, Mansfield; J. Finger, Windham; B. Trott, Coventry.
R:\FY2O13\Referrals\UCONN Water Supply EIE 2012.docx
WINCOG. 700 Main Street Wilimantic, CT 06226.
Phone: (860) 456-2221. Fax: (860) 456-5659. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the comments
from the National Park Service regarding diverting water from a Wild and Scenic
This EIE for the diversion of water from the Farmington River watershed
to UConn/Storrs was on the agenda of the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ),
which met Dec. 19.
Click here for CEQ's comments.
Email the CEQ at Karl.Wagener@ct.gov .
Here are comments from Meg Reich of the Willimantic River
Water Supply EIE Comments by Meg
Purpose of the proposed action
Page 4-51 last paragraph in section 4.5.2 re: UCONN “The purpose of the proposed
action is to connect the University water system to an additional source of
supply capable of providing an additional 1.93 mgd.”
That was not the original scoping notice for the proposed action. The original scoping notice listed
0.5 to 1.0 mgd as the water demand.
The change in scope of the water demand needs to be explained in detail and this
EIE document does not currently explain in sufficient detail how the document’s
purpose morphed from the need for 0.5 to 1.0 mgd to the need for 1.2 to 1.93
mgd, or two to four times the amount of water originally estimated to be needed.
While the document does not adequately explain this change, the presentation by
Jason Coite did thoroughly detail how the scope changed over the three different
scoping notices and reviews that took place over the past two years. His more detailed explanation should
be incorporated into this EIE to provide a full explanation of how the numbers
used to estimate water demand changed.
There are a number of places in the document where this issue comes up,
including not only in section 4.5.2 as noted above, but also in section 1.0
Introduction and the Executive Summary, so changes need to be made in multiple
sections of the EIE, including, but not limited to the sections noted here.
Page 4-48 on Public Water Supply contains a section 4.5.1 which provides a
summary of the Water Utility Coordinating Committee (WUCC) Process. There is no recommendation here about
whether the WUCC should be convened or needs to be convened in the Northeast
Water Supply Management Area, which includes the University and the Town of
Mansfield. There should be recommendations
concerning this issue in this section, or reference should be made to other
sections of the report which address the WUCC process.
Page 8-31 on MDC Public Water Supply contains a section 8.6.1 Exclusive Service
The text of the EIE asks: if MDC can interconnect water mains, if the action is
permissible, and are WUCC approvals needed.
It goes on to state that statutes and regulations discouraged action such
as the MDC interconnection, but that it is “not prohibited”. The EIE says the Upper Connecticut
River WUCC must recommend and approve an MDC main extension to outside of its
ESA, which was originally approved in that WUCC process. The EIE should also add here that the
Northeast WUCC (which includes the University and the Town of Mansfield) has not
been convened, and state whether it should be, is required to be, not needed to
be, or other alternatives.
In the sections on CWC and WWW there should also be text included that discusses
the need for WUCC actions, as there are in the MDC discussions. There should be a findings listed
about WUCC issues in every alternative action “Finding” section.
Section 4.5 should also state that a meeting was held in Ashford, CT
in the summer of 200? to discuss whether the WUCC for the Northeast region of
the state should be convened and the outcome of that meeting.
3. CT Water Planning Council
There should be a section added to the EIE which addresses the CT Water Planning
Council and the need to have a statewide water supply planning process beyond
the regional WUCC process. In this
new section there would be some background history about the CT WPC, how it
evolved and the reports and recommendations of the WPC, in particular the need
for a statewide process to balance water demand and water supply. It is evident from this EIE that the
effects of providing a new large source of water to the Storrs Urban Area is not
able to be fully explored via the mechanism of the EIE.
Or at least this EIE does not do so.
For example, the EIE does state that the University’s water pollution control
facility had excess capacity to process additional waste water, but it does not
show any calculations about how the addition of up to 2 mgd will affect the WPCF
or the new reclaimed water facility (RWF) that the University has under
construction. Further, while it does
mention the impact of the additional water on the stream flow of the
River, but it does not contain any
data on how much water might be added to the flow of that river. While this extra water might
supplement the stream flow during the summer and low flow periods, hence
supporting the fish habitat, the EIE does not project how much water would be
added in either low or peak flow times.
Could this extra water possibly result in higher stream flow and flooding
issues downstream from the University’s WPCF discharge pipe at Eagleville Dam?
Calculations must be shown for sample water uses and the resultant flows thru
the WPCF, the WRF and stream flow of the receiving stream, the Willimantic River.
In addition, Page 8-36 Section 8.7.1 Sanitary Sewers in the last paragraph re:
UCONN WPCF needs to address the RWF and the impact of an additional 1.93 mgd on
the WPCF. The text here is too
general. Show calculations for WPCF,
RWF and stream flow in high and low conditions and add text explaining.
There also needs to be an attempt to address the balance of water when it is
diverted from one watershed basin to another, and the CT WPC’s work has
indicated that the diversion of water from one basin and the disposal of the
additional wastewater generated, into another basin, is not well studied,
understood, documented or coordinated.
The need for a more comprehensive statewide approach to water supply planning,
diversion, wastewater disposal, and the environmental, land use, growth and
development, economic and socio-economic impacts is noted in their reports.
While this EIE does provide data available on each of those issues, it falls far
short of coordinating them. Some
mitigating actions are listed, but with such a broad brush that they
functionally dismiss any impacts whatsoever.
Broad statements such as are contained in the EIE, which pronounce that
there will be few or minor impacts since mitigating actions can be implemented
are simply not adequate.
Section 12.7 addresses Technical, Managerial and Financial Capacities including
how UCONN, the Town of Mansfieldansfield or other water users could purchase
additional water and administer how it is delivered and billed. This section is quite brief and is
not detailed enough to provide guidance to the University or the Town on how to
proceed to govern this new additional supply of water being purchased from
another water supplier far away from Storrs, CT.
There needs to be much more detail as well as examples of how to
accomplish this. Stating that the
Town of Mansfield could become a water utility,
as the text of the EIE does, is just the first step; there needs to be much more
detail, including examples of other towns, preferably in
Connecticut, where this happens.5.
There are a number of places in the EIE text where a new pedestrian bridge,
crossing over the Willimanticlimantic
River, connecting Jones Hollow Road in Coventry
and Old Tolland Turnpike in Mansfield
is mentioned. The idea comes up as a
way for a new water main to cross the river in sections discussing alternative
routes for the CWC pipeline, the MDC pipeline, and also in sections about
recreation and open space resources.
The idea if for a new pedestrian bridge to be built on the abutments of the
former Jones Crossing
(also known as the Scripture
Bridge or the old Tolland Turnpike bridge over the Willimantic
River in Merrow) and a water main to be attached
to such new bridge. The text of the
EIE says that, “The Town of Coventry and the Town
have expressed an interest in creating” such a bridge and there has been,
“Discussion” of such a project. Town
officials in Mansfield
have been asked, and no one has yet been found who has been involved in such
discussions. While this might prove
to be a good idea, it has not yet been discussed, so the text in the EIE should
Page 7-19 section 7.4.3 mentions the pedestrian bridge, but the text is more
general and acceptable as written.
Page 8-27 section 8.4.3n">8.4.3
Mansfield lacks mention here of the two MDC pipeline
route alternatives, and that the I-84 route would use the same pedestrian bridge
crossing at Jones Crossing Road to hang a water main from in order to cross the river.
6. Comprehensive Planning
Page 4-1 lists the six statewide growth management principles of the State Plan
of Conservation and Development.
Principle number 6 is to, “Promote integrated planning across all levels of
government to address issues on a statewide, regional and local basis.”
This EIE is an attempt to assemble in one place these issues, and to present the
applicable plans and regulations, impacts and mitigating actions, in as
comprehensive a manner as is possible for one document. The problem, however, is that there
is no entity which exists in Connecticutnecticut to carry out the comprehensive planning
effort that is necessary to accomplish this goal.
The EIE is the document where the issues are pointed out, and the public review
of the EIE furthers the process. The
next step of OPM review is an attempt at statewide review and coordination, but
there is no official mechanism to take action where conflict exists.
The need for a new additional source of water for the University of Connecticut
main campus at Storrs, and for the Town of Mansfield’s Storrs Urban Area has
morphed from a local project of finding a place to drill new wells within the
Town, to a regional project of transporting water in a new regional pipeline
from CWC’s Shenipsit Reservoir to Storrs, ultimately to a statewide project of
diverting water from halfway across the state from MDC’s reservoirs in the hills
of northwestern Connecticut, across the Connecticut River Basin and up into the
hills of eastern Connecticut.
The statewide planning process which exists for water supply is the WUCC
process, which has never been convened in NE CT.">NE CT. The WUCC process only deals with
water supply and demand and delivery issues, not with comprehensive land use,
environmental, economic and socio economic issues. It is no one entity’s charge to carry
out statewide coordinated comprehensive planning.
The WUCC process does not go far enough to actually accomplish integrated
planning across all levels of government and address all of the issues which
concern the state the regions and the local communities. The CT WPC has pointed out the need
to go beyond the WUCC process, but there is no such process in place at this
point in time.
This project points out the need for such a new approach, and so the EIE for
this project should also include text which indicates the lack of an approach to
carry out Principle 6 of the State Plan of Conservation and Development.
7. Overlay Zone
There are a number of places where the term overlay zone is used in the text of
the EIE. The use of this term seems
to refer to the overlay zone used by the Town of Middlebury, CT and the
extension of a CWC water main across the frontage of land that town wanted to
have preserved as open space, and not subject to development.
In numerous sections of the EIE reference is made to Mansfield and other towns
through which a new water main would pass, could use an overlay zoning technique
to control or prevent premature, or indeed any development of land along the
Indeed the use of an overlay zoning technique is listed in land use tables as
mitigating action to carry out town zoning, subdivision or plan of conservation
and development goals. Yet, the
overlay zone is never described and needs to be, in at least one place in the
EIE. References can be made to it in
footnotes from tables. Indeed a copy
of the Middlebury, CT regulation should be in an appendix or otherwise
summarized within the EIE.
The constitutionality of this technique has not been tested, yet so many of the
mitigating actions to prevent secondary development or sprawl are based on using
this technique. A warning should be
included in the EIE about this.
Basing so much growth control on one untested land use regulatory technique
could result in disastrous consequences if the technique later is overturned.
Page 5-1 Section 5.0 has no section on Findings, as do all the other
alternatives. Add a new section 5.19
Finding, in order to be consistent with the format of other sections, such as
6.19, 7.19, 8.19, et al.
Naubesatuck Watershed Council
Jean de Smet
Naubesatuck Watershed Council
39 Davis St.
Willimantic, CT 06226
Jason M. Coite
University of Connecticut – Office of Environmental Policy
31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055
Storrs, Connecticut 06269
December 11, 2012
Before any decisions are made, the regulatory process must be changed to
bring the university into compliance with all state water company laws, to
empower all stakeholders to participate in the decision-making about sharing
their resources, and to assess the environmental impacts of relocating water
The Naubesatuck Watershed Council (NWC) was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit
in 2000. Its purpose is to protect and enhance the beauty, biotic diversity and
ecological interactions, structures and processes of the three river
systems--the Fenton, Mt. Hope and Natchaug--that converge in Naubesatuck Lake
and provide all of the raw drinking water for the city of Willimantic and part
of Mansfield. It is dedicated to promoting stewardship of, and sustainable
development within, the 162 square mile watershed in the communities that share
Naubesatuck Watershed Council (NWC) was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in
2000. It’s purpose is to protect and enhance the beauty, biotic diversity and
ecological interactions, structures and processes of the three river
systems--the Fenton, Mt. Hope and Natchaug--that converge in Naubesatuck Lake
and provide all of the raw drinking water for the city of Willimantic and part
of Mansfield. It is dedicated to promoting stewardship of, and sustainable
development within, the 162 square mile watershed in the communities that share
Since most of the Naubesatuck watershed is in private hands, and since the state
lands within it are not governed by municipal laws, the watershed presents many
vexing drinking water conservation and management problems. Much work needs to
be done to compile a watershed plan of conservation, first in understanding the
resources in the watershed and compiling the existing plans, second, in filling
in the gaps, third in presenting it to municipal conservation, inland wetlands,
and planning and zoning commissions, and fourth, in getting municipalities to
sign on to a plan and incorporate it in their town plans' of conservation and
Mansfield and UConn have recently decided to work together to develop a plan to
provide water for planned growth of the University , Storrs Center, King Hill
Road Planned Business Area and Mansfield Four Corners area, as well as
additional possible future demands.
It is the position of the Naubesatuck Watershed Council that the University and
Mansfield need to live within their means to be the sustainable communities
which they strive to become. The EIE states: “In order to enable growth of the
University and the surrounding area consistent with the University's master
plans and associated environmental analysis and the Town of Mansfield's Plan of
Conservation and Development, the University and the Town of Mansfield are in
need of a viable long-term public water supply source.” Rather than creating
far-reaching plans to move water to Storrs at state taxpayers’ expense, it would
behoove the University to consider developing in other areas of the state which
have water resources available. It is more environmentally sound to change the
plans than to change the course of the rivers in CT.
NWC is very concerned with UConn’s extra-legal status, which was established in
a 2000 legal opinion from then-Attorney General Blumenthal. The University has
also been granted legislative permission to develop the campus in Storrs, and
Storrs Center, outside of the established permitting processes which are
followed by every other developer in the state.
As such, it is unclear what, if any, water laws will be enforced in the effort
to locate a regional water source for Storrs. The DEP and DPH have no control
over UConn’s actions, as evidenced by UConn consistently (over 10 years)
ignoring those agencies, and others’, demands to move their hazardous waste
transfer facility off of the public drinking water supply lands. In fact, UConn
is now conducting its 4th study of where the HWTF should be located, despite 3
prior committees’ clear conclusions and recommendations to move the HWTF.
NWC is also concerned with the University Office of Environmental Protection’s
latest suggestion to shut down pumping operations in the well-fields in the
Naubesatuck watershed. While this would have a positive impact on the stressed
Fenton River, this action would remove what little protection the public
drinking water supply provides to the watershed lands, and allow the University
to expand into areas east of Route 195 which they have planned to develop
several times, only to be rebuffed by public opinion. Of particular concern is a
bill that passed the General Assembly this year which permits sale of watershed
lands where wells are abandoned. The University may utilize public/private
partnerships to avoid regulations when desired.
The draft state of CT Plan of Conservation and Development refers to Growth
Management Principles which encourage use of local water sources in rural areas
and cautions against introducing public water at a scale that encourages
development. Inter-basin water transfers can have significant ecological
consequences. The Willimantic River may benefit from increased water flow, but
there are no numbers in the EIE to assure us that there will be no negative
consequences from too high stream flow and damage during storms.
The Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Program Review and Investigations
Committee issued a Streamflow Report in 2003 which strongly recommended that the
state strengthen the CT Water Planning Council and create a statewide water
supply planning process beyond the regional WUCC process. To date, the Northeast
region does not yet have a WUCC, and there is no statewide coordination. But
even the WUCC process only deals with water supply, and demand and delivery
issues, not with comprehensive land use, environmental, economic and socio
economic issues. It is no one entity’s charge to carry out statewide coordinated
comprehensive planning. This is another of the principles in the draft state
POCD: “Promote integrated planning across all levels of government to address
issues on a statewide, regional and local basis.”
The Streamflow Report points out that “The Departments of Environmental
Protection and Public Health and the Office of Policy and Management are
required by a 1967 state law to develop an ongoing planning process and jointly
prepare and periodically update a statewide long-range plan for management of
water resources. The statute does not specify which agency has overall
responsibility for ensuring the plan is developed.” And “The state lacks such a
comprehensive, formalized water allocation process. This void was also clearly
identified by DEP’s Diversion 2000 report, the Water Planning Council in its
various subcommittee reports, and the council’s January 2003 annual report to
the legislature. The model is under consideration by the Water Planning Council
and has not been fully developed. Further, the council lacks the necessary
statutory authority to implement a statewide water allocation system.”
The state of CT, the University of CT and the towns of Mansfield and Willimantic
are not prepared to make scientifically viable, or regionally responsible
recommendations for management of state water resources. Before any decisions
are made, the regulatory process must be changed to bring the university into
compliance with all state water company laws, to empower all stakeholders to
participate in the decision-making about sharing their resources, and to assess
the environmental impacts of relocating water resources.
Jean de Smet Chair,
Naubesatuck Watershed Council
Action Alerts! ARCHIVES: not updated
2012 Draft Energy Strategy
Here is the link to the state's 2012 draft energy strategy:
A list of key documents can be found at the bottom of the page at
Written comments will be accepted on or before December 14, 2012, by 4:30
p.m., and can be electronically filed using the DEEP
electronic filing system (click here). Written comments
can also be e-mailed to Debra Morrell at email@example.com or sent via postal
mail to Debra Morrell, DEEP, Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy, Ten
Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.
Here follow the comments submitted by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.
2012 CT DEEP COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY STRATEGY
Draft for Public Comment
from Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
November 25, 2012
Rivers Alliance is a
nonprofit organization focused on rivers and other state waters. We strive to
protect and restore water resources through policy work, education, and
assistance to local groups and individuals who share our mission.
Commissioner Esty and all concerned for creating a comprehensive state energy
We support, of course, state and national efforts to reduce greenhouse
gases. Success in this endeavor is essential to the survival of the natural
world as we know it. We believe that the Draft Strategy’s emphasis on energy
efficiency will lead to improvements in air quality, water quality, and climate
We hope this strategy will be pursued aggressively; for, by many
measures, the first casualties of pollution-intensive energy generation are
clean water and healthy aquatic habitats. Degradation of water rapidly leads to
degradation of human health. A sound energy strategy should minimize negative
effects on water. Therefore our brief comments on the plan will address:
- Industrial cooling and process water
- Fracking for natural gas
The Draft Strategy references “small-scale” hydropower
as desirable. We believe that the size of a hydropower facility is not the best
standard for evaluating this energy source. Numerous small-scale hydropower
plants are likely to do far more harm to a river than one, larger,
well-designed, low-impact facility.
Good design sustains flow and provides
passage for fish and eels. With the excessive number of dams in Connecticut
(more than 5,000), it is possible to generate additional hydropower while
achieving improved river health. For example, the development of an existing dam
as a hydropower site can be balanced by the removal of less suitable dams.
strategy document also references “environmentally benign” hydropower, which is
no doubt the same as, or similar to, “low-impact” hydropower.
In the past
decade, federal and Connecticut policy has moved toward low-impact hydropower to
the extent of discouraging pond-and-release hydro systems; these hold back the
natural flow of the river for release at times of peak demand. By contrast,
low-impact hydro requires run-of-the river operation. In Connecticut’s renewable
portfolio standards, Class I hydropower must be run of the river. Unfortunately,
the operation must also be small (not more than 5mw) and new (post-2003). These
last two requirements can be problematic, hindering environmental and energy
A frequently used standard, which we recommend, is certification by the
Low-Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI). The LIHI standard is applied in
Connecticut for eligibility for funding by the Clean Energy Fund and for use of
state-owned dams for hydro generation by a private operator. We believe that
LIHI certification should be a prerequisite for Class I renewable status.
are also various forms of “damless” hydropower, such as using the tides to turn
turbines. The impacts have not been fully assessed.
The plan revives the idea of
using Canadian hydropower to meet the need for low-emission energy and to meet
portfolio standards. This raises a moral dilemma for Connecticut river
advocates. Most Canadian hydropower is dramatically destructive of natural
resources; however, if we import all our hydropower from Canada, there is less
incentive to destroy Connecticut rivers.
It also raises a politico-financial
dilemma. Connecticut’s system for promoting use of renewable energy depends on
creating a market for it. Connecticut (like many other states) requires
distributors to purchase renewable energy for their portfolios. The calculation
is that, in this state-mandated market, demand will so far exceed supply as to
raise the price of renewable energy (or renewable energy credits) to the point
that that renewable-energy generation will be irresistibly profitable. But, if
Connecticut imports vast amounts of Canadian hydropower, supply will more than
meet demand; distributors’ portfolios will meet all goals practically overnight,
and the incentive to develop renewable-energy projects will be gone.
increasing imported hydropower to meet Connecticut’s clean-energy goals would
likely require a re-analysis and adjustment of the entire portfolio structure.
One approach would be to import only LIHI-certified hydropower to meet Class I
in Connecticut: Opportunities and Challenges for Developers, and Recommendations
for CCEF Support (Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, rev., 2007), and Hydropower in
Connecticut and the Northeast (Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, proceedings of
Settle on a definition of low-impact, or
benign, hydropower. Do not use the definition in the present portfolio
standards. While the Class I run-of-the-river criterion is good, the
requirements that Class I hydro be small (5 mw or less) and new (post-2003) are
harmful. Consider using LIHI certification (where emphasis is on run of the
river, plus no new dams and creation of fish passageways).
- Evaluate and set
goals for imported versus state-based hydropower. The goals will affect the
price and function of energy credits. Rivers Alliance supports only LIHI
standards for state-based hydropower.
Industrial Cooling Water
We appreciate the passage in the
Draft Strategy document that says:
“Natural gas-fired boilers and combined cycle
power plants systems require water for cooling, and water is heated to make
steam to run the turbines to generate electricity. A 2005 U.S. Geological Survey
report found that thermoelectric production accounts for about 40% of the
freshwater withdrawals in the United States, and, while most of that water is
returned, the transfers consume significant amounts of energy.” (Chapter II,
It would be important to add here that modern, more efficient
technology makes it possible to site large generating plants in upland areas.
The modern facilities do not have the same water needs as, say, a nuclear plant.
But the water they do need may severely deplete available upland resources.
Moreover, although much of the water used may be returned to or near the source,
the quantity may be less, the temperature higher, and the location somewhat
Therefore, we urge that the plan recommend assessing a prospective
power-plant site and technology with respect to availability of water for both
cooling and process, and with respect to the opportunities for acceptable
discharge of the used water. If water access and discharge are not considered to
until the end of the decision and permitting processes, the result can be
unnecessarily expensive for the applicant and needlessly harmful to the
environment. A number of large projects have failed because of flawed water
The state has been reluctant to insist that an applicant use
air-cooling or hybrid cooling in new power plants, and has allowed upland
applicants to apply BATs and BMPs developed for shoreline facilities.
Develop a comprehensive approach to industrial permitting that
deals with water use and discharge early in the process.
- Develop protective
standards for upland water sources. Require air-cooling where appropriate.
Fracking for Natural Gas
The Draft Strategy relies heavily on increased use of
natural gas, which will be extracted in most cases by hydraulic fracking. Thus
far, fracking has been extremely destructive of water quality and relies on
burying waste in a manner that threatens ground water.
the example of Vermont, and put a moratorium on in-state fracking for gas until
protective practices and regulations are developed. Ban injection of fracking
waste from other states into Connecticut soils.
We applaud the
Draft Strategy’s detailed attention to the tight connections between energy use
and water. Moving and managing water takes energy. Generating energy takes
water. Therefore, the Draft’s emphasis on efficiency and waste-reduction is wise
and prudent. However, ultimately, we need to use less and consume less, not just
through efficiencies but also behavioral changes.
Draft Strategy’s three recommendations for achieving conservation in management
of drinking supply and wastewater. These are 1) Establish a system of water
rates that will encourage utilities to invest in conservation. 2) Raise the
surcharge margin in WICA (Water Infrastructure Conservation Adjustment). 3)
Require electric and gas utilities to include water conservation generally in
their conservation plans.
- Require public water utilities to meet the same
conservation and efficiency standards as privately owned utilities.
statewide, competitive rewards and awards for water conservation, similar to the
programs at UConn Storrs and other universities.
Margaret Miner, Executive
NRCS Fiscal Year 2013 financial assistance
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is
accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2013 financial assistance to help
implement conservation practices that improve natural resources on farms,
forestland, and wetland areas throughout Connecticut. Deadline to submit
applications to be considered for the first ranking period is Friday, Nov. 16.
Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for
funding if funds are available after first cycle applications are processed.
Practices that reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss on cropland, help farmers
manage manure and nutrients associated with livestock production, help
forestland owners better manage woodlands, improve wildlife habitat, or improve
grazing systems are eligible for funding assistance. Individual practices that
have been historically popular include waste storage facilities, no-till, cover
crops, buffers, prescribed and rotational grazing, nutrient management, and
forest stand improvement.
Some special initiatives expected to again be available for 2013 include habitat
improvement for the Eastern Bog Turtle and the New England Cottontail, farmstead
energy audits, seasonal high tunnels, and installation of conservation practices
to benefit organic farming operations or those transitioning to organic.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers incentive payments for
producers and forestland owners who are practicing good conservation measures
and are interested in improving and adding practices to enhance their
conservation efforts. The application deadline for CSP is also Nov. 16.
For more information, visit http://www.ct.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or contact your
nearest USDA Field Office: Danielson - (860) 779-0557; Hamden - (203) 287-8038;
Norwich - (860) 887-3604; Torrington - (860) 626-8258; Windsor - (860) 688-7725.
Connecticut Conservation and Development Policies Plan Comments for the Office
of Policy and Management
October 4, 2012
Dear Dan Morley:
Thank you for the opportunity to learn about and comment on the state
conservation and development policies plan (the Plan). We, at Rivers Alliance,
appreciate the major effort put into highlighting important principles and
making presentations across the state. However, through no fault of OPM, the
revision of the existing Plan has been encumbered with a number of new mandates:
a bottom-up approach (cross-acceptance); new mapping methodology; new
legislation that relates to the content of the plan, in particular the open
space bill (PA 12-152); and a more emphatic state policy of reducing barriers to
development and job creation. This is not a run-of-the-mill revision; it is new
Planning Processes and Timetable
The sequence of planning tasks assigned to OPM and its sister agencies is in an
illogical order, with an impossible timetable. PA 12-152 reflects a general
agreement that the state has been operating without good data and valuations on
state-owned lands, conserved lands, farmland, and semi-conserved lands. The law
calls for an estimate of the extent of preserved, or conserved, land and for
recommendations for arriving at a more accurate accounting. At the same time,
DEEP is revising the Green Plan, which addresses the state's open-space goals
and progress toward those goals.
Common sense suggests that OPM's Plan and map should be based in significant
part upon the data and recommendations developed under PA-152 and the Green
Plan. But all three (and probably other related plans) are being written almost
simultaneously. This guarantees a hodge-podge result, with a consequent need for
backing and filling to try to come up with consistent and comprehensive data,
models, and policies.
So our first comment is to urge OPM to seek a revised timetable, and in the
meantime to work with a provisional text and map (possibly a corrected version
of the existing map).
Additional time would also allow the cross-acceptance process to proceed to a
more satisfactory conclusion.
The New Jersey cross-acceptance model, used by Connecticut, has a much fuller,
bottom-up process that requires longer and more detailed negotiation among
state, regional, and local entities -- and the public -- to arrive at consistent
goals, strategies, and policies. Where consistency is not attained, New Jersey
requires written statements of agreement and non-agreement, which can be used to
identify areas where more work is needed. By contrast the Connecticut process
cuts off part way through, with the deadline for public comments less than a
month from the final public presentation. There has not been time for a full
back-and-forth on how to reconcile differences to the benefit of all.
OPM has received numerous complaints, corrections, and questions regarding the
Locational Guide Map (LGM) that accompanies the Plan. It is my understanding
that the revision of the map was undertaken to provide a more objective basis
for designating areas for growth, conservation, and so forth. The idea is to use
census blocks and show existing conditions. But OPM has been handicapped by lack
of good information, and existing conditions are not accurately represented.
This map may be fixable; OPM is doing its best; but this is a complicated task
requiring the cooperation of several agencies. Most likely it would be simplest
to start over with different rules. In the meantime, the existing map is more
Again, I believe more time is needed to get a good result with the LGM. In
addition, OPM should clarify how much weight officials and the public should
give to the text versus the map. If there is an inconsistency, which is the
governing document? Is the LGM the authoritative source for the Priority Funding
Areas? Understandably, government entities and non-profits want to be sure that
both the text and the map reflect state policies, so that they can know whether
a given project can be described as consistent with the Plan and thus eligible
for various funding opportunities.
The Map illustrates particularly clearly the state's shift from balanced support
of conservation and development to stronger support for development. We agree
with comments submitted by the Groton Open Space Association and the Housatonic
Valley Association (HVA). Elaine LaBella at HVA wrote:
"The Locational Map, which is used to guide where state development,
transportation and conservation money is spent, indicates that a considerable
portion of the state falls within Priority Development Areas, while the current
Plan and Locational Map shows that the majority of the state falls within
Preservation or Conservation Areas. "
This is quite a change.
Concision vs. Detailing
The new Plan is much more concise than previous plans. This is beneficial in
many ways. However, in the transition, a legal analysis should be done to
determine whether deletion of material will be interpreted in court cases as
signaling a deliberate change in state policy. The Plan should identify any
policy changes associated with compacting the text.
Drinking Water Watersheds
For example, the Plan no longer specifically recommends low-density development
in drinking-water watersheds. The following (and much more) has been deleted.
"As a general density guideline for water supply watersheds, require minimum lot
sizes of one dwelling unit per two acres of 'buildable' area (excludes
wetlands). Consistent with the carrying capacity of the land, encourage
cluster-style development to lessen impervious surfaces and avoid development in
more sensitive areas."
In its place we have the very different guidance:
"Regulatory approaches that are environmentally sound, allow for least-cost
compliance options, provide operational flexibility, and offer incentives for
pollution prevention should be actively pursued wherever practical to reduce the
time and cost associated with doing business in Connecticut."
Does this mean that OPM is backing off its past position, which complemented
DPH's guidance of two-acre zoning or greater in source-water recharge areas? If
not, could the DPH guidance be incorporated by reference?
Natural Waters, Wildlife, and Open Space Undervalued
The text and map together indicate that state is dramatically rolling back its
previous commitment to protect natural waters, wildlife, and open space. Is this
intentional? Some planners have discussed using the incorporation-by-reference
in these areas, too. For example, if the Plan refers in principle to the
importance of saving open space a (more to come)
Pending Pesticides Permit
The application of pesticides directly into surface water
is highly problematic and, in the view of many, too lightly regulated. Two years
ago, the Sixth District Court agreed. The court ruled that applications of
pesticides into water count as point-source discharges and must be regulated
under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit
program. This requirement also covers aerial spraying of pesticides over
forests. As a result, the EPA and states are required to write NPDES permits for
application of pesticides to waters.
A proposed general permit for Connecticut is pending. It
will be superimposed on the existing permit program. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO
GET THIS RIGHT. The proposed permit appears to be weaker in some respects than
the federal general permit. DEEP has requested that, if we are considering
asking for a public hearing, we give them a chance to meet with concerned people
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PESTICIDES PERMIT, PLEASE
CONTACT RIVERS ALLIANCE: Call 860-361-9349 or
email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the notice from the DEEP, with a link to their website:
tentative determination to issue the General Permit for Point Source Discharges
to the Waters of the State from the Application of Pesticides.
Here is link to the
EPA website explaining the general permit they have issued:
Stormwater HearingThe Department of Environmental Protection held
a public hearing Thursday, June 23, 2011 on the renewal with modifications of
the Stormwater General Permit involving construction activities. Roger Reynolds
of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) and Bill Ethier of the Home
Builders Association of CT are interveners. If you wish to submit comments on
the Stormwater General Permit for construction activities, the deadline is this
Friday, July 1, 2011.
Please direct written comments to Kenneth M. Collette, Hearing Officer,
Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Adjudications, 79 Elm Street,
Hartford, CT 06106-5127. These written comments may be submitted
by post, facsimile to (860) 424-4052, or by electronic mail to
and should also be copied to Christopher
Stone (Christopher Stone, P.E., Department of
Environmental Protection, WPED/Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance
Assurance, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT, 06106-5127. A copy of your written
comments may be submitted by post, facsimile to (860) 424-4074, or by electronic
mail to email@example.com
A fact sheet and more information regarding the
general permit can be found on CT DEP's website:
It is important that we speak out for
the protection of water and endangered species. Construction industry voices are
being heard loud and clear, and we need to make sure that voices for the
protection of water resources are being heard as well.
Below is a brief summary of concerns:
We are most concerned with two aspects of the permit. First, high quality
water resources (examples include drinking water supplies and cold water trout
streams) will receive a lesser level of protection and a lower performance
standard than impaired water resources. Other states have applied the same high
standard to both. Failure to do so creates the perverse incentive for people to
develop greenfields rather than brownfields, the opposite of what needs to be
In addition, we are concerned that there is no requirement for mitigation, or a
fee that would be sufficient to cover the cost of mitigation, if a developer
claims that they are unable to meet the relevant performance standard. Instead,
the General Permit would require a lengthy engineer's report that will take
substantial DEP resources (that they do not have) to refute and will do nothing
to protect the impacted resources. Requiring mitigation would simplify and
streamline enforcement and ensure that the resource is actually protected by the
developer. This is exactly the type of regulatory scheme that Commissioner Esty
has espoused and the DEP should implement.
At the same time, the homebuilders have been very vocal and have sought to
remove the protections for Endangered Species and to eliminate a requirement for
review by the Conservation Districts (as
you recall this was the subject of failed legislation this year (HB 6400)). DEP needs to hear from us.
In general, while we believe the outreach draft makes significant improvements
in the regulation of construction stormwater, further action is needed to
safeguard the state's waters. We are happy to see that DEP is one of the states
moving forward in a fairly serious way with incorporating principles of Low
Impact Development into their stormwater permits. That being said, the state
must do so in a way that properly protects high quality water resources and has
clear, easily understandable and enforceable requirements that create the
appropriate incentives. It must also avoid rollbacks to Endangered Species Act
protection and Conservation District review.
DEP's official report on
Hello, Water Watchers: The DEP is asking for comments on its 2011 official
report to Congress, which must be submitted every three years under the Clean
Water Act. The deadline is May 11, 2011, but if you need more time, please
request it. (The informational meeting was May 5. The release date was April 11.)
DEP's page describing the report is at
click here to go to the Report itself. The summary is copied below for your convenience,
followed by a copy of the summary table.
The name of the document is the
Integrated Water Quality Report. It combines the so-called 305(b) list and
the 303(d) list. The latter is also called the "impaired waters" list. The
numbers refer to sections of the Clean Water Act.
It is important to ask for corrections if you see errors, especially if you
think your favorite water body is misclassfied. Note, that an "impaired
designation" is supposed to lead eventually to a clean-up plan, often called a
TMDL (for "total maxmum daily load"). If your stream or lake has problems, and
has not been assessed, ask for an assessment. (We can help if you do not know
how to get started.)
One way to deal with this huge document is to look at some of the summaries and
the water quality criteria. I noticed, for example, that lakes are shown as
amazingly clean, which does not accord with observations. Probably high-quality
reservoirs are included here -- anyway I am going to ask for clarification.
If you are interested in, say, just one river, type the name of the river in
Find, and you should be taken from section to section for all the information on
that river. (Keep punching Next.)
Some of the most interesting sections are at the end. You will see them in the
Table Contents. My favorites are:
Table 3-2. Connecticut Impaired Waters List
Table 3-3. Waterbodies with Adopted TMDLs (Category 4a)
Table 3-4. Pollution Control Measures for Category 4b Waterbody Segments
Table 3-5. Nonpollutant Impairments (Category 4c)
Table 3-6. Reconciliation List
Table 3-7. Waterbodies Removed from Connecticut's Impaired Waters List
Note "Nonpollutant Impairments" is a kind of do-nothing category of problems
that are tricky to handle with a TMDL or simply deemed too difficult to solve.
The Reconciliation List helps to track changes.
Pollution Control Measures is
eye-opening, a must-read.
Comments should go to
If you have questions, we will try to help. The DEP page describing the the
Thanks, Margaret (Telephone numbers below)
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
INTEGRATED WATER QUALITY REPORT )
7 West Street, POB 1797
Litchfield, CT 06759
Tel: 860-361-9349 Fax: 860-361-9341 Cell: 203-788-5161
Serving all the waters of Connecticut
Contacts: Margaret Miner, Rose Guimaraes
Water quality in Connecticut has improved over the last few decades as a result
of protective laws, remediation efforts and a substantial investment in improved
wastewater treatment. There are still gains to be made in these areas. The
projected costs for necessary upgrades and improvements to municipal sewage
infrastructure, exclusive of phosphorus needs, are estimated to be approximately
$3.572 billion over the next 20 years (US EPA, 2010a and b). Additionally,
further improvements are needed with respect to stormwater management and
nonpoint source pollution control.
Many of the remaining causes of impairment of Connecticut surface waters are
difficult to identify (e.g., “cause unknown”) and/or correct (e.g., CSOs, urban
stormwater runoff). Future management efforts will need to focus not only on
wastewater treatment, collection and infrastructure, but also on control and
mitigation of nonpoint pollution sources and coordinated watershed efforts.
Initiatives will require input from the numerous public and private interests
that regulate and oversee land use management and environmental policy,
especially at the local level.
The CT DEP has staff focused on increasing awareness of Low Impact Development
(LID) techniques for reducing stormwater and nonpoint runoff. We are working
with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to provide information,
educational materials and technical assistance in the application of LID
techniques, building on existing programs such as the Governor‟s Responsible
Growth Initiative, the 3 University of Connecticut‟s Extension System NEMO
program and US EPA‟s Smart Growth Program. The goal is to build better
relationships and promote LID management practices with local land use agencies,
academic institutions, nonprofit groups, the building industry and the public.
Incorporating LID into land use plans can decrease impervious surfaces and limit
runoff, leading to improved water quality and recharge of our rivers, streams
and groundwater supplies.
Graphics on this page may be courtesy the CT DEEP