OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT ON THE FIRST STEP IN STATE WATER PLANNING
THE WATER PLANNING COUNCIL AND ALL WATER POLICY MAKERS WOULD BE INTERESTED IN YOUR OPINION ON BEGINNING PROJECT MANAGEMENT
See announcement below. Some history of the issue is available here. The deadline is September 5, 2014. Rivers Alliance would be happy to answer questions. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-361-9349
The Water Planning Council (WPC), established pursuant to Section 25-33o of the CGS has been charged to prepare, within available appropriations, a state water plan for the management of the water resources of the state, in accordance with Public Act 14-163: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/ACT/pa/pdf/2014PA-00163-R00HB-05424-PA.pdfThe public act specifies what shall be included and considered in the plan and requires that the plan be completed by July 1, 2017. The law further allows, within available appropriations, for the Office of Policy and Management, on behalf of the Water Planning Council, to enter into one or more memoranda of understanding with independent consultants for advice or assistance in developing and compiling the state water plan. Such assistance may include, but need not be limited to, data collection, storage and organization of data as deemed necessary by the Water Planning Council.The University of Connecticut has offered to provide services at no cost to the Water Planning Council, under a Memorandum of Understanding, to provide assistance to the WPC in support of its efforts to create a state water plan as outlined in the DRAFT MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: http://www.dpuc.state.ct.us/DPUCINFO.nsf/a83f79d989c4d48b8525743a0050a53f/97510e37e4c981be85257d33004e8907/$FILE/draft%20WPC-UConn%20MOU.docThe Water Planning Council is soliciting public comment, to be provided to the Council by September 5, 2014, on:1. The Draft Memorandum of Understanding with the University and any recommendations on the process or conditions of the proposed agreement; and2. Any recommended alternative approaches to develop the plan, with identification of anticipated costs and funding sources for such approachesComments should be emailed to: email@example.com mailed addressed to:Water Planning Council C/o Bruce Wittchen Office of Policy & Management 450 Capitol Ave, MS# 54ORG Hartford, CT 06106All comments must be received by September 5, 2014.The Water Planning Council shall consider comments prior to any action on the MOU at the WPC meeting on September 16 @ 1:30 pm at the office of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority @ 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051GOOD
NEWS IS YOURS TO CREATE
Dear Leaders and Friends: In the last two days of the legislative session, there are three important bills we can push through. They are teed up in the Senate. They are ready to go. If we speak up, they will go! We need these laws!
TODAY call Senate President Don Williams and Majority Leader Martin Looney at 1-800-842-1420, ask them to bring forward:
Bill 5424 AAC the Responsibilities of the Water Planning Council. This bill calls for statewide water planning. It has passed the House and is supported by all stakeholders.
Senate Bill 70 on protection of state-owned conservation lands and a registry of state lands of public use and benefit. This bill for the first time explicitly authorizes DEEP to place conservation restrictions (including easements) on property it owns. It is supported by a wide spectrum of conservation organizations. There is particular urgency to moving this bill now (!). It still has to go to the House.
Senate Bill 46 AAC Pesticides on School Grounds. This bill extends to high school students the same protection from pesticides as now exists for younger children. These protections involve a ban on the use of lawn and turf pesticides on school grounds. There is particular urgency to moving this bill now (!). It still has to go to the House.
We are not asking at this time for action on the fracking-waste bill. Last-minute legal questions have complicated the situation. However, it would be perfectly reasonable to ask that the Senate support a ban on fracking waste. The legal complications relate to 11th hours amendments offered by Sen. Len Fasano of East Haven. These amendments undermine the agreed-upon provisions in the bill. If he would withdraw his amendments, we might get a clean vote on this issue. His number is 1-800-842-1421.
We would be happy to answer questions.
An amendment offered by Sen. Andrea Stillman and Rep. Betsy Ritter was added to the 2014 Conveyance Act, which is substitute bill 5550. Here’s the link to the amendment:
The amendment is to sell the Seaside Regional Center (buildings by architect Cass Gilbert) in Waterford to “the entity selected to purchase the property” in an RFP issued by the state in 2009. The developer has until Jan. 1, 2015, to buy the property. This is a fabulous property, which has been in play for several years. It is difficult to determine the intent of the amendment, but the language does not appear to reference or require preservation of the buildings, public access, or the like. These may very well be stipulated elsewhere, but should they also be in the Act?
Late amendments to the Conveyance Act are not subject to a public hearing. The State Lands Working Group and Sen. Ed Meyer tried to establish reforms to the process but no dice this year.
If you want to know more about the Seaside transaction, probably it would best to contact the sponsors.
Most important: The industry reportedly does not like the term “frack.” It prefers “frac.” I wonder why.
Second most important: Whether CT will ban fracking waste, or regulate it, or take some other action will likely be decided early next week. The governor does NOT favor a ban, so if you do, call him at
Ask him to support Senate Bill 237, which bans fracking waste. Also thank him for achieving the long-sought conservation of the 1,000-acre Preserve in Old Saybrook.
The last surviving bill curbing excessive pesticide use is SB 46 AN ACT CONCERNING PESTICIDES ON SCHOOL GROUNDS. It extends the present ban on the use of lawn care pesticides in schools grades K-8 to include schools with students in grades 9-12.
To give this any chance of making it through to law, contact any legislator you know and also Sen. Pres. Don Williams and Majority Leader Marin Looney, both of whom can be reached at 860-240-8600. Also thank them for their work on SB 70, the bill that moves us a giant step forward on protection for state conservation lands. It passed the Senate and is now in the House!
PESTICIDES + FRACKING WASTE
COMING OUR WAY?
If it's Tuesday, it's pesticides. If it's Wednesday, it's fracking waste.
As many of you may know, there was a blow-up last week in the General Assembly over pesticides, GMO lawns, and good governance. The Senate, led by Democrat Don Williams, was pushing avant garde legislation to ban GMO grass. The House, led by Democrat Brendan Sharkey, killed the bill. The most-often-cited reason for the billicide was that, because the GMO ban was attached as an amendment to a bill, there had been no public hearing, and this totally deprived lawmakers and the public of the chance to express and hear all opinions. Of course, good-government advocates like the League of Women Voters have been arguing for years that no bill should move forward without a public hearing. They have gotten nowhere. The 11th minute of the 11th hour is prime time for new laws. But suddenly last week, all sorts of House members expressed shock -- shock at the thought of legislation skipping the public hearing. Some reported muscle cramps from keeping straight faces. Now here's the pesticide issue: The killed bill contained very good language protecting children from exposure to lawn chemicals, not just on school grounds pre-high school (as is the case now) but in parks, high schools, and similar public places. That language has been added to:
SB 68 "AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE USE OF CERTAIN MICROBIAL AND BIOCHEMICAL PESTICIDES AND GRUB CONTROL PRODUCTS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS", which is on the agenda of the Planning and Development Committee for a vote today Tue. Apr. 15, and is now a key bill to limit pesticide use in places children play.
Dr. Jerry Silbert has been the point person on the wonkish issue of safe control of grubs. Feel free to comment on the grubs if you like, but the broader issue is children and pesticides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Email the members of the P&D Committee. Put "Vote for SB-68" in the subject line. The message can be: Protect Connecticut's children from exposure to toxic lawn pesticides and vote for SB-68. Other towns have successfully converted their fields to nontoxic care. So can yours.
Planning and Development email list (Rojas and Osten are co-chairs):
Matthew.Ritter@cga.ct.gov; Jason.Rojas@cga.ct.gov; Joe.Diminico@cga.ct.gov; Bill.Aman@cga.ct.gov; Tom.Vicino@cga.ct.gov; Mae.Flexer@cga.ct.gov; Brian.Sear@cga.ct.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov; Mary.Fritz@cga.ct.gov; Noreen.Kokoruda@housegop.ct.gov; Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov; Linda.Gentile@cga.ct.gov; Auden.Grogins@cga.ct.gov; Dan.Fox@cga.ct.gov; Cassano@senatedems.ct.gov; Osten@senatedems.ct.gov; Len.Fasano@cga.ct.gov;
Calls to the members are effective: Here's where to find your legislator
WEDNESDAY APRIL 16 -- 10:30 TO NOON IN HARTFORD
JOIN ADVOCATES AND ACTIVISTS DELIVERING A PETITION TO THE GOVERNOR TO BAN FRACKING WASTE
Place: Legislative Office Bldg., 300 Capitol Avenue
There are two leading bills addressing the importation of fracking waste to Connecticut:
SB 237 AN ACT PROHIBITING THE STORAGE OR DISPOSAL OF FRACKING WASTE IN CONNECTICUT
And HB 5308 AAC THE REGULATION OF FRACKING WASTE AND FRACKING BY-PRODUCTS
SB 237 is a ban and is supported by many, many environmental and health groups, including Rivers Alliance. It is the Environment Committee's bill. On Monday April 14, it passed the Judiciary Committee. Hurrah!
HB 5308 is a moratorium to be followed by regulation of fracking waste if this can be done safely. It is DEEP's bill. Both bills are better than current federal law, which incredibly disallows regulators from treating mining/extraction waste and by-products as hazardous no matter what they are, arsenic, cyanide, cesium, whatever. Rivers Alliance does not believe that DEEP has the capacity to take on a major new remediation program. First, let's clean up our contaminated groundwater.
Here's a link to the main fracking waste website: http://wastefreect.org/
We'd be happy to answer questions. If you don't have time to do any of this stuff, maybe because it's Passover and Easter week, no worries. You can jump in later. These fights will go on.
THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE WILL HAVE A PUBLIC HEARING THIS FRIDAY ON A BILL THAT COULD REVERSE THE TOXIC LAWN PESTICIDE BAN
You ARE making a difference in the fight to protect Connecticut’s children from toxic lawn pesticides. A BAD BILL HB-5580 will have a public hearing on Friday, March 21st. Sections 1-3 of this bill may lead to reversing the toxic lawn pesticide ban by eventually substituting “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) that allows the use of the full spectrum of toxic lawn pesticides at the discretion of the groundskeepers.
The Planning and Development Committee has a long history of trying to reverse the toxic lawn pesticide ban since it went into effect in July 1st, 2010. Sections 1-3 of HB-5580 are designed to promote IPM.
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please email the Planning and Development Committee (you can copy and paste the attached list into your email) with this simple message: “Put Connecticut’s Children First. Protect them from exposure to toxic lawn pesticides. Remove sections 1-3 from HB-5580. You can use “Remove sections 1-3 from HB-5580” in the subject line.
Planning and Development email list:
Matthew.Ritter@cga.ct.gov; Jason.Rojas@cga.ct.gov; Joe.Diminico@cga.ct.gov; Bill.Aman@cga.ct.gov; Tom.Vicino@cga.ct.gov; Mae.Flexer@cga.ct.gov; Brian.Sear@cga.ct.gov; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov; Mary.Fritz@cga.ct.gov; Noreen.Kokoruda@housegop.ct.gov; Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov; Linda.Gentile@cga.ct.gov; Auden.Grogins@cga.ct.gov; Dan.Fox@cga.ct.gov; Cassano@senatedems.ct.gov; Osten@senatedems.ct.gov; Len.Fasano@cga.ct.gov;
We have faith that the Connecticut legislature will do what is best for the children of Connecticut, but we need to make sure they know what we want.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Please tell your state legislators that SB 405 is wrong because environmental protection requires public input!
You can make a phone call right now to help protect your community from inappropriate development. This Friday, the state Planning & Development Committee will vote on a bill that limits public input on subdivision proposals and could lead to the approval of subdivisions that would damage our environment and neighborhoods.
Senate Bill 405, An Act Concerning Public Hearings on Subdivision Applications, changes existing law to say that local planning commissions can only hold public hearings on subdivision proposals if they’ve determined that the proposal violates local subdivision regulations. This makes no sense—commissions use the input they get from experts and the public at hearings to help figure out whether a proposal is legal or not. In addition, public hearings can bring to light environmental, infrastructure, and social factors that are important to consider. The bill asks planning commissions to make important decisions without all the facts. That’s just bad policy, for development and for the environment.
Make a Quick Call Today
Please check the committee to see if your state senator or legislator is a member; if so, please call them! (If you’re not sure who your legislators are, you can look them up on the CGA website or at votesmart.org.)
If not, please call as many of the committee’s leaders as you can:
Sen. Cathy Osten, co-chair: 860-240-0579
Rep. Jason Rojas, co-chair: 860-240-8585
Sen. Steve Cassano, vice chair: 860-240-5302
Rep. Daniel Fox, vice chair: 860-240-8585
Sen. Len Fasano, ranking member: 800-842-1421
Rep. William Aman, ranking member: 860-240-8700
YouR17;ll reach an aide or an answering machine. Just state your name and town, any relevant business or organizational affiliation, and ask that the legislator oppose SB 405 and protect your right to speak up about development proposals that affect your community. If you speak to an aide, please ask if they know how the legislator plans to vote and let us know what they say.
Connecticut Residents: Take Action to Stop Genetically Engineered (GE) Grass and Expand Pesticide Protections!
Connecticut's active 2014 legislative session continues on with new opportunities to expand pesticide protections and stop the introduction of "Roundup Ready" GE grass seed in its tracks.
SB 443, a companion bill to HB 5330, which will extend pesticide protections to Connecticut parks, playgrounds, and municipal fields, has now been introduced in the CT Senate and referred to the Committee on Environment.
Tell your legislator to support HB 5330 and SB 443 with an amendment to ban the sale or use of "Roundup Ready" GE grass and other GE landscaping plants.
On Beyond Pesticides' CT Action Page, with one click, you can:
• Email the Co-chairs of the Committee on Public Health and the Committee on Environment; and
• Your local Connecticut legislators telling them to support bills that ban GE grasses and toxic pesticides where children play.
HB 5330 and SB 443 broaden the scope of CT's current ban on lawn pesticides in schools, grades K-8, to include other important areas where children can be exposed to pesticides.
Amending the bills to prohibit "Roundup Ready" GE grass seed will help prevent an explosion in the use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides on lawns throughout the state. Scotts is gearing up to release this new GE grass seed, so its important that we act now to stop it!
These bills will be voted on any day, so please do not wait to let your voice be heard. Keep chemicals and products engineered for the sole purpose of using more chemicals away from our children and out of Connecticut.
An open letter to those who care about children's health and the environment
When tragedy strikes we pay attention. We are glued to our electronic devices in disbelief. Then there are the less public tragedies like a mother taking her young child with leukemia to the hospital for chemotherapy, the high school athlete about to start college just diagnosed with lymphoma, a baby born with birth defects, or the parents helping their child adjust to life with severe asthma. We have worked in the health care field and we know of the suffering that illness and disease can cause.
While we all try to keep our children safe they are being involuntarily exposed to toxic chemicals like pesticides that can harm them. PESTICIDES KILL LIVING THINGS LIKE PLANTS AND INSECTS AND OUR CHILDREN ARE ALSO LIVING THINGS. If children fell ill onto the grass of a pesticide maintained athletic field after a game of soccer or your dog died right after walking on a pesticide sprayed town green you would be paying a lot of attention AND there would be a lot of press coverage. But illness from these toxins is a less publicized tragedy.
This much is clear: CHILDREN AND PESTICIDES DON'T MIX. And as with many stories there is the good, the bad and the ugly and this story is not different.
First the good news. Connecticut legislators by an overwhelming majority passed landmark legislation to protect children by a ban on lawn pesticides in public and private schools from day care to through grade 8. Now hundreds of thousands of children are protected from involuntary exposure on school grounds.
Now the bad news. Most parents do not even know that this law exists because they are not paying attention to the causes of the everyday tragedies that are affecting others people's children. The bad news is that the pro-pesticide interests have blocked the ban being extended to other places where children play. We need the ban extended to high schools, parks, playgrounds, municipal athletic fields and town greens. We need a ban on toxic lawn pesticides wherever our children play.
The ugly news is that the billion dollar pesticide industry wants to protect their market share on the backs of our children and our environment. Pro-pesticide interests claim that non-toxic turf care does not work and are trying to reverse the ban and permit the use of all their toxic pesticides. They do this under the guise of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that sounds nice but really means business as usual. IPM is a subterfuge to allow the full use of toxic lawn pesticides. IPM is flawed and puts our children at risk. The ban is stricter and protects children from toxic pesticide exposure. A ban also would protect the applicators who themselves are at risk for exposure and harm. These interests are also trying to block any further expansion of the bill with a variety of tactics.
No toxic pesticide should be used where children play. There are gaps in testing, pesticides are not really tested for long term toxicity considering the time from exposure to diagnosis of disease can be up to 20 years. Pesticides are not tested in combination and in the formulations that they are actually used. These formulations can be more toxic than the active ingredient alone. On top of this, the testing is done by the chemical companies who manufacture the pesticides – the fox is guarding the chicken coop.
Non-toxic care of fields works well when done properly. Success is due to know how. Lots of workshops and classes have been offered, but more importantly success is an attitude to want to protect the health of the kids in the community they serve. In a town that has gone beyond the current law and has all their fields and parks under non-toxic care, the Director of Parks has said, "when I hear that another child in my town gets cancer I want to know it is not because of something I sprayed on my fields." If elected municipal officials really care about the health of children in their town and want playable fields, they should find someone who actually does non-toxic care successfully and not use those who complain it can't be done.
BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT GRASS. PESTICIDE USE IS A MUCH BIGGER STORY. IT IS ABOUT CHILDREN WITH CANCER, CHILDREN WITH LYMPHOMA, CHILDREN WITH LEUKEMIA, CHILDREN WITH ASTHMA, CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS, CHILDREN WITH CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES AND ALLERGIES. IT IS ABOUT OUR PETS DYING FROM EXPOSURE TO GRASS TREATED WITH PESTICIDES. IT IS ABOUT OUR ENVIRONMENT, THE AIR WE BREATH, THE WATER WE DRINK, AND THE FOOD WE EAT. IT IS ABOUT ALL OF US AND OUR LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
What kind of society do we live in where money for corporations that manufacture toxic chemicals is valued over the health of our children. What will it take to get people to make the time to contact their legislators and their town officials and let them know that they want Connecticut's children's health to be their priority. Don't we have an obligation to our children and future generations to make sure we did all we could to ensure a toxic free legacy. Our government officials, have an obligation to protect the health of all citizens. Even if children cannot vote, their parents can.
Roberta Silbert, MPH
Board Member, ConnFACT - Connecticut Families Against Chemical Trespass
Board Member, The Watershed Partnership
PLEASE SHARE THIS LETTER WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND ASK THEM TO TAKE ACTION. IT IS OUR MORAL OBLIGATION TO TRY TO PROTECT OUR MOST VULNERABLE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
Contact your own legislators. Find them at:
Please state the following or put it into your own words and speak from the heart.
"Please support HB-5330 and SB-46. I am very concerned about Connecticut's children being exposed to toxic lawn pesticides and am very pleased that Connecticut now has a law prohibiting the use of toxic lawn pesticides at day care centers and school grounds with children through grade 8. But why are our young people not protected in other places like high schools, parks, playgrounds, municipal sports fields and town greens where they are involuntarily exposed to these toxic chemicals? Please support legislation to protect Connecticut's children wherever they may be exposed to toxic lawn pesticides. Tell them you want a ban."
Contact co-chairs of the committees proposing these bills and thank them for protecting Connecticut's children:
For HB-5330 AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES AT PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, ATHLETIC FIELDS AND MUNICIPAL GREENS
Submit testimony to the committee: PHC.Testimony@cga.ct.gov
Contact House and Senate Co-chairs of the Public Health Committee
Senator Terry Gerratana: (860) 240-0584, Gerratana@senatedems.ct.gov
Representative Susan Johnson: (860) 240-8585, Susan.Johnson@cga.ct.gov
For SB-46 AN ACT CONCERNING PESTICIDES ON SCHOOL GROUNDS
Submit testimony to the committee: KID.Testimony@cga.ct.gov
Contact House and Senate Co-chairs of the Committee on Children
Senator Dante Bartolomeo: (860) 240-0441, Bartolomeo@senatedems.ct.gov
Representative Diana Urban: (860) 240-8585, Diana.Urban@cga.ct.gov
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION!!
There will be public hearings on these bills and we will contact you with those dates when they are available.
Senate Bill 70 goes to a public hearing on Wednesday morning, Feb 19, 11:30 a.m.
The bill makes explicit the state’s commitment to protecting its conservation lands. I have embedded below a support letter to which I can add signatures. Let me know if you would like add your name. (Many of you have responded already -- THANKS). Other steps you can take include contacting your legislators to express support; emailing testimony to Env.Testimony@cga.ct.gov before 8:00 on Wednesday, and/or testifying in person (bring 6 hard copies).
If you have questions, you can ask firstname.lastname@example.org ; or Connecticut Land Conservation Council (email@example.com ) or Connecticut Forest & Park Association (firstname.lastname@example.org); or Audubon Connecticut (email@example.com) or Martin Mador with the Sierra Club (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Margaret (Miner) 860-361-9349 or mobile 203-788-5161.
TO: Sen. Ed Meyer and Rep. Linda Gentile, Chairmen, and Members of the Committee on the Environment
RE: Public Hearing on Senate Bill 70, AAC The Preservation of Lands Under the Control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture
DATE: February 19, 2014
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.
We and the undersigned write in strong support of Senate Bill 70. Rivers Alliance is one of several groups (including Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, Connecticut Land Conservation Council, and Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter) that have been seeking effective protections for lands purchased by, or donated to, the state as open space for the enjoyment of the public and the preservation of natural resources. In the past 15 years, these public lands frequently have been the object of proposals to transfer title or and/or change use for purposes not compatible with conservation values. Occasionally, these efforts have been successful. More often, they have been turned aside, but at the expense of time and effort by public agencies, already stretched thin, and/or by members of the public, who understandably chafe at the need to fight for what is arguably already theirs.
Recent research has shown that state-owned lands, especially those in the Recreational and Natural Heritage Trust Program, have no legal protection, nothing in the land records, to prevent conveyance to another owner or for another use, including private development. Two years ago, Public Act 12-152 AAC The State’s Open Space Plan called on DEEP to develop a strategy for preserving lands of high conservation value in perpetuity. Since then, numerous legal and logistic concerns have impeded progress. Senate Bill 70 makes explicit that the state has the right and the responsibility to protect, for the public, lands acquired and held for their high conservation value, including state forests and parks, wildlife management areas, and endangered habitats. Many of these properties contain or abut precious, high-quality waters.
We thank you for raising this bill, and urge you to pass it. We would be happy to answer question or help in any way. In an Appendix to this testimony, Rivers Alliance will address a few technical issues.
Margaret Miner. Rivers Alliance , Executive Director
On December 5, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will host a forum at 9:30 A.M. in Hartford, at the Legislative Office Building (LOB), Room 1B, on proposed legislation for the 2014. You can endorse or elaborate or oppose their suggestions. You can submit your own new ideas, in person or by email. Rivers Alliance of Connecticut will be glad to help.
CEQ monitors the state's environmental progress each year, and makes legislative recommendations. This year, Rivers Alliance will be joining CEQ in calling for action on statewide water planning, river flow monitoring, tightening up the oversight of sewage treatment systems, and safeguarding Connecticut's citizens, wildlife, and water resources from the toxic fracking waste that is coming our way. Here is the link to the CEQ recommendations: http://www.ct.gov/ceq/lib/ceq/Draft_CEQ_Recommendations_for_2014_Legislation.pdf
Above all we ask you to join CEQ and nature advocates across the state in demanding action to protect state open-space lands of high conservation value, acquired for the public enjoyment, from being taken from the custody of DEEP and given over for private development or other non-green uses such as police shooting ranges, cemeteries, cell towers, golf courses, and parking lots. There are more than 250,000 acres vulnerable to this kind of conveyance. Many provide invaluable protection for water resources. CEQ has done a report on the threats to state conservation lands entitled Preserved, But Maybe Not. We can send you a copy.
If you wish to send a message urging the conservation of ecologically important state lands, it can be addressed to CEQ Chairman Susan Merrow c/o Karl.Wagener@ct.gov. Or you can send it to email@example.com, and we will deliver it.
Bill 1138, AAC (An Act Concerning) Connecticut's Clean Energy Goals
Bill 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 beneficial hydropower.
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 arguments.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MDC Proposal To Divert Water Across the State
Council of Environmental Quality Comments on the EIE for the Diversion of Water from the Farmington River Watershed to UConn/Storrs
Rivers Alliance 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 at http://www.ct.gov/ceq/lib/ceq/8.0_-_Interconnection_with_MDC.pdf. 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, or 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 answered. 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 forwarded.
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 http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB06537&which_year=2013.
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 on that.
Here is a link to a Farmington Patch article: http://farmington.patch.com/articles/officials-oppose-water-diversion-plan-as-mdc-holds-meetings-in-farmington
You may learn more about this proposal by visiting this link: http://www.envpolicy.uconn.edu/eie.html
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 by Sally Rieger
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. The 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.
Worse yet, 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 favor. 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 Towns
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 20-mile pipeline.
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 exporting water.
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 conditions.
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, coincidentally, recreation.
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 water temperatures.
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 / Margery Winters, Vice Chairman
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 to UConn
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 be brief.
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 watershed.
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 watershed.
5. The MDC project costs more than necessary to solve the stated problem.
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,
Margaret 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 Proposal.
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 and September.
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 line.
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 Unlimited
cc:Kevin Witkos, Mike Demicco, Margaret Miner, Bruce Rich, Don Rieger, Susan Masino, Jim Glowienka, Dori Smith, Richard Barlow, Mary Glassman, Margery Winters, UpCountry Sportfishing, Pete Aarrestad
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;
The Environmental Impact Evaluation does not adequately address all environmental impacts (such as traffic generation from development that will be served/induced by this proposal);
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 Plan 2010.
- 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 and preservation.
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 River corridor...
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 . Meeting minutes available here.
Here are comments from Meg Reich of the Willimantic River Alliance
Water Supply EIE Comments by Meg Reich 12/4/2012
1. 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 Areas (ESA’s).
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 Willimantic 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.
4. Governance Issues
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. Pedestrian
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 Road Bridge (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 of Mansfield 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 be edited.Mansfieldansfield
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 Town of 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 pipeline.
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 Testimony
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 resources.
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 these rivers.
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 development.
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
2012 Draft Energy Strategy
Here is the link to the state's 2012 draft energy strategy: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/energy/cep/deep_draft_connecticut_comprehensive_energy_strategy.pdfdf A list of key documents can be found at the bottom of the page at http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=4120&Q=500752
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.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here follow the comments submitted by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.
2012 CT DEEP COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY STRATEGY
Draft for Public Comment
Comments 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.
Thank you Commissioner Esty and all concerned for creating a comprehensive state energy strategy.
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 stability.
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.
The 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 gains.
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.
There 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.
Thus, 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 portfolio goals.
Sources include: Run-of-River Hydropower 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 2008 conference).
- 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, page 64.)
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 different.
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 planning.
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.
- Follow 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.
- Implement the 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.
- Develop statewide, competitive rewards and awards for water conservation, similar to the programs at UConn Storrs and other universities.
Margaret Miner, Executive Director
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 and difficult.
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 useful.
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 first.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PESTICIDES PERMIT, PLEASE CONTACT RIVERS ALLIANCE: Call 860-361-9349 or email to email@example.com.
Here is the notice from the DEEP, with a link to their website: Notice of 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: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=410
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2586&Q=476258
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 happening.
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 water
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 http://www.ct.gov/dep/iwqr, or 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 ......................................................................................... 207
Table 3-3. Waterbodies with Adopted TMDLs (Category 4a) ................................................................ 365
Table 3-4. Pollution Control Measures for Category 4b Waterbody Segments ...................................... 373
Table 3-5. Nonpollutant Impairments (Category 4c) ............................................................................... 378
Table 3-6. Reconciliation List ................................................................................................................. 382
Table 3-7. Waterbodies Removed from Connecticut's Impaired Waters List ......................................... 393
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions, we will try to help. The DEP page describing the the Report is at http://www.ct.gov/dep/iwqr
Thanks, Margaret (Telephone numbers below)
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
Summary (from INTEGRATED WATER QUALITY REPORT )
7 West Street, POB 1797
Litchfield, CT 06759
Tel: 860-361-9349 Fax: 860-361-9341 Cell: 203-788-5161 http://www.riversalliance.org/
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 Governorâ€Ÿs Responsible Growth Initiative, the 3 University of Connecticutâ€Ÿs Extension System NEMO program and US EPAâ€Ÿs 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