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Water Supply in Western CT Conference

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Water Supply in Western Connecticut Conference

(program with slides and videos below)

Presented by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut,
With support from The Connecticut Community Foundation

Connecticut Community Foundation Logo

Where does water supply for western Connecticut come from and will it be sufficient for future needs?

This was the topic for the May 18, 2018 conference.

Margaret Miner, Executive Director of Rivers Alliance, welcomed the 45 people who convened to learn more on the topic from people working in water utilities, public health, and watershed protection.

Louise Washer, Executive Director of the Norwalk River Watershed Association, moderated the day’s program.

Kevin Zak,  President of the Naugatuck River Revival Group, videotaped the Conference.

Conference Steering Committee: Dan Lawrence, Len Dejong, Margaret Miner, Martha Smith

a public water supply reservoir in northwest Connecticut

Program and Links


Part 1: Overview and Challenges for Water Supply Sources in Western Connecticut 

Dan Lawrence, Director of Engineering and Planning, Aquarion Water Company

.... kicked off the conference with an overview of the types of water supplies we have in western Connecticut.  Using summary information from the Western Water Utility Coordinating Committee (WUCC) report, he pointed out that population trends for the region show growth in urban and suburban areas with rural areas tending to flat or decreasing population.  As it happens, most of the growth areas have existing water supply infrastructure.  At least 20% of the people in the western region get their water from private residential wells.

Connecticut’s definition of public water systems are those which supply water to:  at least 25 people, with at least 15 service connections, and for at least 60 days per year.  This definition becomes more nuanced when applied to different types and sizes of public water systems, such as campgrounds, town halls, shopping plazas, and hospitals.  The result is occasional confusion on how to categorize or define various systems. 

The biggest risks for to source-water quality in western Connecticut are leaking septic system, road salt, and development within the watershed.  Fuel spills, illegal dumping, fertilizer use and erosion are also problems.  There are growing concerns about emerging contaminants in the environment, such as PFAs (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) which come from a number of sources, such as Teflon and stain resistant products and fire fighting foam.  Dan noted that, as we develop and use new products, there will always be new contaminants in our environment.

Click here for the slides in his presentation "Where Does Your Drinking Water Come From and Why Should We Care?" in pdf format.

Part 2: Update on State Water Plan 

( Note: 33 days after this Conference, Governor Malloy issued an Executive Order to implement the State Water Plan )

Representative Jonathan Steinberg

... described he fate of the state Water Plan. The Plan had been two years in development under the supervision of the state Water Planning Council.  It was submitted to the legislature in 2017, but proved controversial, especially with respect to language stating that, in Connecticut, water is a public- trust resource.  After a public hearing, lawmakers declined to take action.  Rep. Steinberg expressed disappointment, but was encouraged by the interest and debate on the public trust issue.  He explained that the public trust language was seen as threatening certain grandfathered rights to take water (registered diversions).  The Plan can and likely will be used in its current version, though Rep. Steinberg cautioned that some parties will use its non-approval as an excuse not to move forward with any recommendations.

Part 3: Public Utilities:  Responses to Climate Change, Conservation, and Infrastructure   

Don Carver, Superintendent at City of Waterbury Bureau of Water

... discussed how a municipal public water utility manages water supply.   

The City of Waterbury relies on a number of reservoirs, built in a period spanning the 1860-1960s.  Water demand peaked in the 1900s, when Waterbury was a major brass manufacturing center.  Now, less water is used in the city for two primary reasons: industry has left, and most homes and other buildings have water saving appliances.  There has been a long decline in water demand, this decline has leveled off in recent years.

The cost of operating the Waterbury water utility increases approximately 3% per year.  Projecting future costs and needs is problematic. Climate change will alter rain patterns, but it is not clear what other changes will come and how to prepare responses.  Infrastructure costs are likely to rise as reservoirs and other infrastructure age and need upgrading. The utilities water rates fund current operations, but not long-term capital expenses

A municipal utility is governed by elected officials; so there is a need for constant education on the requirements for water supply.  The water utility’s needs compete with those of other city services financed through taxes and fees.  The utility is considering restructuring its water rates so as to have a steady stream of income.

Click here for his slides in pdf format.

Part 4: Private Wells in Connecticut   

Bob Smith, Registered Sanitarian, Torrington Area Health District

... presented a primer about residential wells.

An informal survey of audience members indicated a good portion used their own well for home supply.  He then asked when they had last had their well water tested, and with a few definitive answers, his talk moved on to describe well construction and location, which determine well water quantity and quality.

The only time state law requires a private well to be tested is when it is installed.  Mr. Smith urged everyone to read the documentation provided when wells are first installed and inspected, and then to have their water tested from time to time.   Staff in the local public health office can help in explaining lab results.

Click here for his slides in pdf format.

Part 5: Changing Laws and Policies 

Peter Galant, Vice President,  Tighe and Bond and Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of CT

... provided updates on changing Water Laws and Policies. 

Water supply planning is done by Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs), in addition to the work of the Water Planning Council.   One focus of the WUCCs is extended interconnection of systems.  Emergency interconnections, which address short-term water needs, have always been an option.   But current planning envisions a much larger system of interconnections to provide resilience and reliability during drought and other stressful events.    

Water utility financial stability among private water utilities has been aided by recent laws and rules, allowing water rates to be structured so that the utility is guaranteed revenue income sufficient to meet approved operations and infrastructure development.  In other words, water revenues can be de-coupled from the volume of water sold, allowing the utility to promote conservation without losing vital revenue.

Conservation actions during drought conditions are distinct from day-to-day prudent conservations.  Drought planning in Connecticut has evolved as a combination of mechanisms and regulations involving, chiefly, utilities’ individual water supply plans and the state’s Drought Management Plan, which has been under review for years.  Mr. Galant expressed the view that state drought planning is not the same as water-suppliers’ drought planning.  The latter, which concerns supply, can be done by water companies themselves.  The former is the province of the state but does not include supply provisions.

Click here for their slides in pdf format.

Part 6: A Collaborative Approach to Water Resource Management for the Pomperaug River 

Len DeJong, Executive Director, Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC), and 
David Radka, Director of Water Resources and Planning, The Connecticut Water Company

... teamed up for the final talk—about a collaborative effort to balance water supply with habitat protection in the Pomperaug River Watershed.  Specifically, this work is being done in the area where Connecticut Water Company acquired Heritage Village Water Company’s wells in Southbury, adjacent to the Pomperaug River.  Under a requirement in the 2016 acquisition agreement, Connecticut Water is doing a study with PRWC on habitat protection and supply needs. Much of the ecological analysis builds upon a 2007 fish- habitat study done in the watershed streams. Water supply needs include water for the Towantic power plant located in Oxford and for customers of the Heritage Village Water Company (where  inadequate metering make management planning problematic).

While the process is ongoing, emphasis has been on habitat restoration, pursuing interconnection supplies during critical fish spawning periods, and educating customers about conservation.

Click here for their slides in pdf format. 

Conference Presenters

Don Carver

Superintendent, City of Waterbury Bureau of Water

Don Carver started his career in the Water Industry in 1978 and is currently the Superintendent of Water for the City of Waterbury where he has worked for the past 23+ years.  He is a past Chairman and National Director for the CT Section of the American Water Works Association (CT-AWWA) and was a Connecticut Water Works Association (CWWA) Board member.  He is the former Director of Alpine Racing at Mohawk Mountain.  Don and his wife (Carol) reside in Middlebury.

Len DeJong

Executive Director, Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition

Len DeJong joined the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition as its Executive Director in 2013 after a nearly 40 year career in public water supply management.  Complimenting his engineering and operational roles, his work emphasized the protection of water resources and the use of sound and sustainable environmental practices.  A Rutgers College of Engineering graduate, Len also served on numerous professional associations and boards and was recognized for his contributions with awards from the American Water Works Association, Water For People and the New England Water Works Association.  Locally, Len has served on various land use and environmental conservation organizations including his past chairmanship of the Town of Roxbury Inland Wetlands Commission.  An avid fisherman, Len truly values the significance that watershed protection plays for safe public drinking water, aquatic health and recreational enjoyment.

Peter B. Galant, P.E.

Vice President, Tighe & Bond, Inc.

Peter Galant is a Vice President at Tighe & Bond and leader of their Water Technical Practice Group.  Peter has Bachelor’s Degrees in Biology and Civil Engineering from Tufts University and a Masters in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.  He has a broad range of water supply planning and engineering experience gained from 30 years in the industry.  Peter is a member of the American Water Works Association and the New England Water Works Association and active in the Water Resources Committees of both organizations.  Peter is also a past president of the Connecticut Water Works Association and is a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. 

Daniel R. Lawrence, P.E.

Director of Engineering and Planning, Aquarion Water Company

Dan Lawrence is the Director of Engineering and Planning for Aquarion Water Company’s Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire water systems which includes 9 surface water treatment plants, 328 groundwater wells, 101 pumping stations, 31 dams, 3,560 miles of water main, 74 water storage tanks, and other related infrastructure.

Dan joined Aquarion in 2014 as the Director of Engineering and Planning.  Prior to joining Aquarion, Dan worked in the consulting field for Blasland, Bouck & Lee (Arcadis), Metcalf & Eddy (AECOM), and Weston & Sampson, gaining experience in a wide variety of infrastructure and other related projects including dam rehabilitation; stream restoration; hazardous waste remediation within streams, lakes and rivers; small and large drainage systems; small bridges; sidewalk and overall roadway improvements; permitting for infrastructure, remediation, and restoration projects; water infrastructure planning, design and construction; and wastewater planning, design and construction.

Dan is a licensed Professional Engineer in Connecticut and has a B.S. in Civil Engineering with an Emphasis in Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. Dan is active in the Lead Service Collaborative and CWWA, Board Member for NAWC – New England, Member of Water Planning Council Advisory Group (WPCAG) and is Co-Chair of the Western Water Utility Coordinating Committee (WUCC) in Connecticut.

Margaret Miner

Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut

Margaret Miner joined Rivers Alliance full-time in 2000.  This statewide, nonprofit organization, founded in 1992, works to protect all the waters of Connecticut and to assist the state's river and watershed groups.  Rivers Alliance supports good water laws, regulations, policies, and practices; offers education on water policy and science, and helps individuals who are dealing with water-related problems.   Rivers Alliance has successfully fought for streamflow protection for many state rivers (with more work to do), for a ban on the water-contaminant MTBE, for maintenance of funding for most USGS streamflow and groundwater monitoring (with more work to do), and for a law requiring the Water Planning Council to develop a comprehensive state water management plan (more work to do).

Margaret, who is the winner of numerous state and regional awards, also serves on the Water Planning Council’s Advisory Group, the board of the state’s Natural Heritage, Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Review Board, and the board of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.  Prior to coming to Rivers Alliance, she was Executive Director of the Roxbury Land Trust, and before that worked as a news reporter and as a book editor and writer.

David Radka

Director of Water Resources and Planning, Connecticut Water Company

David Radka has been employed by The Connecticut Water Company, a subsidiary of Connecticut Water Service, since 1988, where he currently holds the position of Director of Water Resources & Planning.  He holds a B.S. in chemistry and biology and a M.S. in hydrogeology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Connecticut Water Service provides drinking water to nearly 122,000 customers, or about 400,000 people, throughout the states of Connecticut and Maine.

David’s work has led him to be very involved in water policy issues at the state level.  He has participated on numerous committees and forums with other stakeholders and policy makers, including development of the state’s streamflow regulations and state water plan, where he recently served on the Science & Technical and Policy subcommittees.  He is a past president of the Connecticut Water Works Association and co-chair of the Water Planning Council’s Advisory Group.  He has been a board member of Rivers Alliance and chair of the Town of Clinton Inland Wetlands Commission since 2009.

Martha Smith, Conference Coordinator

Martha Smith joined Rivers Alliance last year as their policy coordinator, focusing on the state Water Plan work.  She has over 30 years experience in the water resources field; working with local watershed groups, as the director at Yale University’s watershed center, and as a ground-water consultant, conducting hazardous waste site investigations.  Martha graduated from Smith College, majoring in geology, and holds a M.E.M. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Robert A. Smith

Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian, Torrington Area Health District

Bob Smith is a Registered Sanitarian with 31 years of experience.  He’s been with the Torrington Area Health District for over 28 years and was with the Westport/Weston Health District for over 2 years prior to joining TAHD.

Bob is retired from the State of CT where he spent over 37 years working as a Sign Language Interpreter.  He is also retired from the CT Army National Guard as a Medical Service Corps Officer, with over 22 years of service, and the rank of Major. 

Bob is a board member of the Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (COWRA).  He’s one of the teachers for their annual Septic Installers School.  He’s also the Chairman of the Bethlehem Inland Wetlands Agency and a founding member of the CT Society of Santas.

Louise Washer

President, Norwalk River Watershed Association

Louise Washer has been a member of the Norwalk River Watershed Association (NRWA) board since 2010 and now serves as its President.

The NRWA is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the water quality and fish and wildlife habitats of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed, which falls within seven watershed towns in CT (Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) and NY (Lewisboro).

Louise has lived in the Norwalk area for over 20 years and initially got involved with the NRWA after volunteering for a river study program at her children’s school.  She graduated from Smith College and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as a sculptor.

The webpage URL for this program is:
www.riversalliance.org/Water Supply Conference

A printer-friendlier version can be found here.

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Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
PO Box 1797, 7 West Street 3rd Floor, Litchfield, CT 06759-1797
rivers@riversalliance.org, www.riversalliance.org