Our mission is to protect all the waters of Connecticut: surface waters, aquifers, and wetlands. We promote and support good water policies statewide; we assist environmental groups, businesses, and individuals who seek to improve the quality of local waters. We offer educational services for experts and beginners alike.
This statement serves as the underpinning for the organization and all of our work.
What We Do
Policy Action Goals. Rivers Alliance has always vigorously promoted public policies for protection and restoration of healthy flows in all the state's waterways. As a result, in 2005 Connecticut passed vanguard legislation requiring the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to adopt flow standards for all rivers and streams. Recently we have extended our action goals to protection of both the quantity and quality of headwaters and groundwater. These undervalued and often neglected resources are essential to the water future of this state.
Policy Leadership. As policy leaders, we serve as co-chair of the state Water Planning Council Advisory Group; a member of the state Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Advisory Board, a member of the Clean Water Coalition (funding for sewage treatment); a member of the CT DEEP Commissioner's Policy Work Group for stream-flow regulation; a member of the Pesticides Coalition; a member of the Greater New Haven Community Foundation's Advisory Board for the Quinnipiac River Fund; and a director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.
Small Grants Program. This is a re-granting program funded through the Environmental Protection Agency and the CT DEEP. In the first five rounds we supported projects from more than 40 environmental groups, many of them new. In 2011 we disbursed over $50,000 to 11 groups across the state. We will release a new request for proposals later this year.
Connecticut Watershed Conservation Network. This Rivers Alliance program runs conferences twice annually, communicates throughout the network by email year-round, and maintains a website of conservation news. Our 120-plus members include people from state agencies, environmental groups, recreational groups, and just plain folks.
Fighting City Hall. Rivers Alliance believes you can fight City Hall and win, or at least minimize losses. We assist individuals and organizations that, in the face of daunting opposition, are trying to protect the state's waters. We manage a Help Line (860-361-9349) to assist individuals and groups who are in a fight to protect water resources. If the cause is good, it becomes our cause.
Education. We publish educational materials, including our popular buffers brochure; speak to small and large groups across the state; and stage major conferences on subjects of wide interest, for example, Electric Industry Deregulation: Implications for Water; Streamflow: Science and Policy; Connecticut Water Law; Hydropower in New England; and Risks, Rewards, and and Recreational Liability. We have researched and published learning materials on science topics that did not have information readily available to the general public. These materials include Nitrogen and Phosphorus: Friends AND Foes! and ON-SITE WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT IN CONNECTICUT: THE ROLE OF ADVANCED TREATMENT SYSTEMS (ATS)
Board of Directors
Dwight H. Merriam, Esq., (President) is an attorney at law in Simsbury.
Lynn Werner (Vice-President) is the Executive Director of the Housatonic Valley Association.
David Radka (Secretary) is Senior Environmental Specialist at Milone & MacBroom
Hugh Rogers (Treasurer) is a retired teacher.
Willaim Dornbos is Executive Director of the Farmington River Watershed Association
Paula Jones is with Save Our Water CT
Richard Judd isPresident Emeritus of Central Connecticut State University and Professor of Educational Leadership; he also holds a professorship in the Department of Biomolecular Sciences.
Sharon Lewis is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
Martin Mador is with River Advocates of South Central New Haven.
Sarah Martin is a principal and founder of Hays Worthington.
Denise Savageau is President of the CT Association of Conservation Districts
Rivers Alliance Welcomes New Director Denise Savageau who recently retired after serving as Conservation Director for the Town of Greenwich’s Conservation Commission since November 1997. She is a volunteer board member of the Southwest Conservation District and serves as their representative to the Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation. She currently serves as President of the CT Association of Conservation Districts and represents Connecticut on the National Association of Conservation District Board.
Meet your new Executive Director
Please join us in welcoming Alicea Charamut, our new executive director. Prior to joining Rivers Alliance in May 2019, she was the River Steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy. While her career began working in genomics during the height of the Biotech boom, she found an outlet for her passion for rivers through Trout Unlimited serving in various roles at the chapter and state level. As a fly angler, paddler and rower, water is as central to her play as it is her work.
Alicea also serves as a volunteer in several capacities as Secretary of the Fisheries Advisory Council, a member of the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality, and on the Advisory Board of the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources. She is also the Co-Chair of the Water Planning Council Advisory Group.
Rivers Alliance is grateful for the eighteen years that Margaret Miner was at the helm. She has been a driving force for better water policy during her tenure. She continues to contribute, even in retirement as a valued consultant. Margaret and Alicea worked together for several years in policy circles. She says of the new executive director, “Alicea is well equipped to be the next executive director of Rivers Alliance. She has done bold work on the invaluable state Council on Environmental Quality, in particular, on the Tilcon mining company’s plan to quarry up to 100 acres of source-water land. She will do her part and more to keep this organization strong.”
Alicea holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Connecticut. She resides in Newington with her husband, Bob, children, Sean and Dannan, and their beloved dog Lizzie.
Rivers Alliance Staff List:
Alicea Charamut, Executive Director
Margaret Miner, Consultant
Rose Guimaraes, Development & Programs Director, Newsletter Editor
Lifetime Achievement in Land Conservation Award Given to Margaret Miner
The Connecticut Land Conservation Council has awarded its 2018 Excellence in Land Conservation Award to River Alliance Executive Director Margaret Miner. The Council's announcement notes that Margaret's efforts to protect water includes working to protect open space, quoting her as saying, “There is no better protection for the state’s waters than natural open space adjacent to and around a water body."
Rivers Alliance Executive Director Margaret Miner is the new Bud Foster Awardee for the Connecticut River Conservancy's (formally CT River Watershed Council) 65th River Celebration. The celebration is on Saturday, June 17, at the Riverfront Recapture Boathouse in Hartford.
Each year EPA New England recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region's environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
"We are proud to honor those citizens, businesses and organizations who have gone the extra mile to help protect and preserve our region's natural resources," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "These New England award winners are committed to making our towns, cities and countryside of New England healthy, vibrant places with clean air, land and water."
The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
Margaret Miner Rivers Alliance of Connecticut Litchfield, Connecticut:
In nominating Margaret Miner, US Sen. Chris Murphy called her "a true champion of the planet." ... Miner has been executive director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, a non-profit that protects rivers and streams in Connecticut by promoting sound river-conservation policies and helping watershed protection groups statewide. Miner has spent numerous days walking the legislature's hall, going from meeting to meeting to testify on legislation affecting the environment. Miner is an environmental activist who provides advice and guidance on a range of environmental policy.
Under Miner's leadership at the Rivers Alliance, Connecticut in 2005 passed vanguard legislation requiring the state to adopt flow standards for all rivers and streams. In 2011, the first phase of the flow regulation was adopted. And in 2014, the state for the first time passed a law requiring comprehensive water planning. The Rivers Alliance is fully participating in the statewide water planning process and has extended its goals to the protection of both quantity and quality in headwaters and ground water. In addition, the Alliance helped found the State Lands Working Group, which protects conserved lands.
During her years as director, Rivers Alliance has run conferences twice a year, maintained a webpage of conservation news and been a clearinghouse for information on creating and using water trails in Connecticut. With Miner at the helm, the Rivers Alliance has helped individuals and organizations trying to protect the state's waters, often fighting city hall. The organization's helpline guides individuals and groups striving to protect water resources.
And here's her letter:
April 25, 2016
Ms. Margaret Miner
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
P.O. Box 1797
Litchfield, CT 06759
EPA’s Environmental Lifetime Merit Award is an award that recognizes outstanding environmental advocates who have made significant contributions toward preserving and protecting our natural resources over a number of years. Senator Chris Murphy nominated you.
This award will be presented at a special ceremony to be held at Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Prior to the ceremony, award recipients and guests are invited to a reception at 12:00 pm in the Faneuil Hall Militia Room. This annual ceremony has recognized the environmental achievements of New Englanders for more than four decades.
Again, congratulations, and, on behalf of the EPA, thank you for your outstanding work toward improving and preserving the quality of our environment. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.
H. Curtis Spalding
Environmental Education Coordinator
5 Post Office Sq, Suite 100, MC 1-1
Boston, MA 02109
White Memorial Foundation Conservation Award 2016 Presented to Rivers Alliance
In 1964 the White Memorial Foundation established its Conservation Award to honor an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the environment.
Each year their Board considers possible candidates, and we are honored that Rivers Alliance of Connecticut was chosen as the 2016 recipient of the White Memorial Foundation Conservation Award. In their letter informing us of the decision, Executive Director Keith Cudworth said: "Based on what the Alliance has accomplished and continues to address, our Board could not think of a group that better exemplifies what this award stands for."
The Conservation Award was presented at the White Memorial Foundation's Annual Dinner, Friday, May 6, 2016.
As of last year 46 awards have been presented.
Rivers Alliance is proud to have joined this distinguished list of White Memorial Foundation Conservation Award Recipients
Margaret Miner Receives 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from CACIWC
Margaret Miner, executive director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, was presented with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions (CACIWC). A handsome plaque was publicly delivered to Ms. Miner by Rivers Alliance director and CACIWC member Martin Mador (left in photo) at the Rivers Alliance annual meeting on December 2. Mr. Mador told the audience that the award was in recognition of Rivers Alliance’s work protecting state waters. (At right in photo is CACIWC member Tom Odell.)
RA Executive Director to Receive the Dr. Marc Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award, 2015
The Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC) has announced that Rivers Alliance Executive Director Margaret Miner, of Roxbury, CT, is the first-year recipient of The Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award. The award presentation will be held on June 13 at PRWC’s Annual Benefit at The Mill House Antiques and Gardens in Woodbury.
Dr. Taylor, a former board member of Rivers Alliance who passed away in June of 2012, is remembered as a highly respected and compassionate physician, educator, and environmental leader. It was in his retirement from the medical profession that Dr. Taylor turned his keen intellect and calm demeanor toward fostering coalition-based solutions for the benefit of the environment. In 1999, Dr. Taylor and a group of his peers founded the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition to study the quality and quantity of water in the Pomperaug watershed, a 90-square-mile area that touches eight towns in western Connecticut. With science at its core and education as its hallmark, PRWC works with watershed towns, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, and community volunteers to continue Dr. Taylor's legacy in stewarding the local water resources.
PRWC’s Board of Directors established this award in 2015 to further recognize Marc for his countless environmental stewardship contributions. John Lacadie, PRWC Board Chairman, emphasized that, “in selecting Margaret for this award, PRWC is appreciatively acknowledging her as an individual who has demonstrated similar outstanding dedication and leadership for the conservation of natural resources. We know that Marc would have been as extremely pleased as we are with recognizing Margaret for her environmental accomplishments locally and at the state and federal level.”
Besides being Rivers Alliance's Executive Director, Margaret is Vice Chairman of the CT Water Planning Council Advisory Group and advocates on behalf of numerous environmental organizations throughout the state. Among the many who endorsed Margaret for this award was Lori Brown, executive director of the CT League of Conservation Voters. In her comments Lori stated: “Marc and Margaret worked together for decades on behalf of the environment. Together, they made amazing progress to improve laws that today help protect the quality and quantity of Connecticut’s precious water resources and the life they support.”
Friends of the Lake Annual Partnership Award
Friends of the Lake (FOTL) has given its annual Partnership Award for 2014 jointly to Margaret Miner, Executive Director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, and attorney Roger Reynolds, legal director at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. The two advocates have been working together with the lake group to promote better sewage treatment, especially phosphorus removal, in a number of municipalities. FOTL, based in Bridgewater, is a nonprofit organization protecting Lake Lillinonah, which receives wastewater from Danbury. The organization uses some of the most sophisticated monitoring technology in New England; and its staff, members, and volunteers include experts in ecology, law, boating, fishing, and the always needed debris removal. FOTL handed out a number of awards at its festive annual meeting on August 21, with speakers from the Steering Committee including the group's high-energy leader Jeffrey Silverman (who described Ms. Miner as "a fighting machine") and program manager Greg Bollard, who also apparently doesn't need sleep.
Margaret Miner Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Connecticut Greenways Council
At the 15th annual Connecticut Greenways Awards Ceremony, which took place on June 6, 2014, at Goodwin College, Susan Whalen, deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Bruce Donald, chairman of the Connecticut Greenways Council, presented 10 awards to groups and individuals for their dedication to the development of Connecticut’s greenways. The final award presented, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Margaret Miner, the executive director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut. Ms. Miner and Rivers Alliance were recognized for work on river protection and promotion of blueways, specifically Rivers Alliance’s Connecticut Water Trails website.
The Rivers Alliance Water Trails Program site, www.ctwatertrails.org, is a one-stop hub for information on water trails and paddling opportunities in Connecticut. It connects the many groups that maintain and protect water trails to people interested in paddling the state’s many scenic waterways. The site promotes the use and appreciation of our waters with an interactive map presenting paddling locations across the state, as well as safety, events, and guidance information.
Also in a leading role at the ceremony was Laurie Giannotti, who coordinates the National Recreational Trails Program for CT DEEP, a source of funding for the CT Water Trails program and greenways in general. Attendees commented that the ceremony was full of positive energy demonstrating a bright future for Connecticut’s greenways.
It is with profound sadness that the board and staff of Rivers Alliance report the death, on September 16, 2017, of their beloved and admired director Jim McInerney. He was a much honored leader in water supply, retiring as chairman of Aquarion Water Company.
Trained as a civil engineer (Manhattan College) and in management (Harvard University), Jim became head of Bridgeport Hydraulic in 1984, and led it through two decades of infrastructure improvement and institutional growth, and through two acquisitions and name changes (to Kelda when it was purchased by an English company and Aquarion when bought by the Macquarie Bank in Australia). He received numerous awards for his professional achievements and civic good works. He was keenly interested in the promotion of environmentally sound water practices and policy, and he served on the boards of Housatonic Valley Association, as well as, Rivers Alliance.
Jim was a straightforward, extraordinarily helpful advisor, an effective, unpretentious leader, a delightful raconteur, and devoted family man. He and his wife, friend, and supporter, Eileen, had homes in both Norwalk and Old Lyme for much of their lives. He is survived by her and their three children, James McInerney III, Noreen Ranelli, and Erin DiProposero, and by his sister, Evelyn Roman, eight grandchildren, a nephew, and niece -- all of Connecticut. Gifts in his memory may be made to the National Parkinson Foundation or the Chase Family Movement Disorder Center.
Alexandra "Sandy" Breslin (1954-2017)
of Bethany CT died on May 31, 2017 at Connecticut Hospice in Branford surrounded by her family and friends. She was an extraordinarily effective advocate for the environment and a great friend and guide for Rivers Alliance. She worked to within a few weeks of her death, but was overtaken by a rare cancer. We knew Sandy particularly as a defender of all wildlife, especially birds and, for most of her career, as a defender of the health of L. I. Sound. Rivers Alliance is honored that, as co-chair of the important Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee, her affiliation was as an RA member. She was admired and respected in environmental circles in the state and nationally. She was active in politics, witty, fun, and generous. Here is a link to her formal obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nhregister/obituary.aspx?n=alexandra-breslin-sandy&pid=185681745
Marc Taylor, M.D. 1937-2012
We announce with deep sorrow the death of our director Marc Taylor, M.D., on June 5. He was a friend of rivers across the country, but especially here in Connecticut. He was an engineer, physician, Yale professor, woodworker, outdoorsman, fun host, family man, and, above all, in his years of partial retirement, a supremely energetic and dedicated advocate for rivers and clean water. Inspired in part by the lovely, small Pomperaug River in his own backyard in Southbury, CT, Marc became within a few years a nationally respected river expert and policy leader.
He co-founded the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, with a focus on good science and cooperative stewardship. The organization has developed sophisticated water-science for use by local decision makers. He was active in the land trust, because the health of land and water are mutually linked. Extending his advocacy from town to state, to region, to nation, he became a director and officer of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, president of the Housatonic Valley Association, and then president of River Network, based in Portland, Oregon. He remained an active and extraordinarily helpful participant in all these groups. He never gave up on a cause; he just worked harder. He was modest and quiet, willing to sit through long meetings if he thought it would help a river or river group. But he wasn't shy about approaching prominent leaders in the public and private sector with the message that rivers are the lifelines of the country, and must be protected and supported.
He was given numerous awards and honors, but the accomplishment he valued highest was persuading groups with apparently different interests that we all depend on water, and we all should work together.
Many of our members and friends have sent remembrances, and we are collecting and binding these for his wife, Jan, and daughters, Ann and Regina.
----- Board and Staff of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, June 5, 2012
Timeline: Marc Taylor was born in 1936, and grew up outside New York City. He learned to canoe as a boy scout. He attended Amherst College, worked briefly as an engineer, and then enrolled in Columbia University Medical School. He did his internship, residency, and post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University Medical School. He did important research on liver function, taught at Yale, had a large private practice, and in his so-called retirement he was medical director of an extended care facility. Most of this time, however, was spent on river advocacy and science, as described above. He was fully active in this second avocation until pancreatic cancer and an infection took him away in just a few weeks.
His family can be reached at POB 814, Southbury CT 06488 or at the email of his son in law, firstname.lastname@example.org