During the month of August, field scientists from the consulting firm Fuss & O’Neill will be traveling throughout Bethlehem, Woodbury, and Southbury to conduct Visual Assessment Surveys of local rivers and streams on behalf of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC). This work is part of a larger effort led by PRWC to update and upgrade its Watershed Management Plan (“WMP”), a project funded in part by Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through a United States Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant as well as by the Connecticut Community Foundation.
Carol Haskins, PRWC Outreach Director said, “Our objectives in updating the Pomperaug Watershed Management Plan are to further evaluate current watershed conditions and identify ways to additionally protect and enhance local water resources.”
Haskins noted that the Plan update is being driven by three key factors: (1) timing- it has been 10 years since the plan was last updated; (2) format - the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted a prescribed format for these plans and organizations must have an approved plan to be eligible for future restoration and protection project funding; and, (3) new areas of concern - a greater number of monitoring locations since the time of the last WMP has revealed new sites where data does not meet federal water quality standards.
In order to best inform this Plan, existing watershed conditions are being evaluated though the use of GIS mapping for the watershed as well as visual assessment survey data that will be collected along various river and stream segments. Visual surveys will provide a general assessment of in-stream habitat, streambank, riparian buffer, and floodplain conditions; the potential for stormwater runoff to deliver soil, nutrients, and bacteria from the land to nearby waterways; and opportunities to implement green infrastructure (new and retrofits) to reduce stormwater runoff.
In regards to how the data will be used, Erik Mas, Project Manager and Vice President at Fuss & O’Neill said, “These data will help us better gauge the factors that may be contributing to reduced water quality conditions, and will allow us to develop site specific plans where measures can be implemented to minimize bacteria, nutrient and soil inputs into the Pomperaug River and its tributaries as well as to restore in-stream habitat.”
The proposed field work will generally occur between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the month of August 2017. Field crews from Fuss & O’Neill will conduct as much of the assessments as possible from within the stream corridor, on public property, and within the public right-of-way. In the event field personnel ask for permission to access property, PRWC hopes that residents living along the waterways will permit Fuss & O’Neill staff access with the understanding that doing so is voluntary.
The findings will be shared during informational sessions slated to be held in Bethlehem, Woodbury, and Southbury in October and November 2017. At that, time PRWC will seek community input. The results of the field assessments will be described in the WMP. State and town agencies in the watershed will be able to utilize the WMP (due in early 2018) to further protect and enhance local water resources.
PRWC’s mission is to ensure the availability of high quality water in the Pomperaug Watershed communities through the use of science and education. We share our knowledge and expertise with others committed to the protection of water resources for future generations. Additional information can be at www.pomperaug.org. Questions about the visual assessment surveys and the WMP development can be directed to Carol Haskins, PRWC Outreach Director at 203-263-0076 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Erik Mas, P.E. of Fuss & O'Neill, Inc. at 800-286-2469 or at email@example.com.
Photo Caption: During the month of August, field scientists from the consulting firm Fuss & O’Neill will be traveling throughout Bethlehem, Woodbury, and Southbury to conduct Visual Assessment Surveys of local rivers and streams (pictured - Nonnewaug River) on behalf of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC). This work is part of a larger effort led by PRWC to update and upgrade its Watershed Management Plan for the 90-square mile Pomperaug Watershed.