Coalition Presents Updated Watershed Plan for Improving River Conditions

In follow-up to the three presentations held in July in Bethlehem, Woodbury and Southbury about the water quality conditions of local rivers and streams flowing through the Pomperaug Watershed, the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (“PRWC”) invites area residents and other interested individuals to a presentation of its forthcoming Watershed Based Plan (“Plan”). The presentation is scheduled for Wednesday August 22 at 7:00 PM at the Woodbury Senior Center.

The focus of the Plan is to identify measures that should be implemented to reduce the amount of bacteria entering the local streams currently listed as impaired by CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). There are segments in the Pomperaug Basin where in-stream bacteria levels in the past have been measured in excess of the water quality standard for recreation. DEEP data supporting these results are limited and are dated; as such, future plan implementation will include additional water quality monitoring and analysis.

“As a science-based organization, we are aiming to better understand changing conditions and potential threats to our rivers and streams so we can continue to help protect healthy waters and work to improve conditions where necessary,” says Carol Haskins, PRWC Outreach Director. “As a coalition-based organization, we want to ensure our community has an opportunity to learn about our work and to provide input regarding the long-term stewardship of our shared water resources.”

During the upcoming presentation, PRWC and the environmental consulting team of Fuss & O’Neill will briefly recap the local impairments and the nuances of the data supporting the designation of these stream segments, provide an updated look at the land cover conditions in the watershed, and explain the results of the pollutant loading model that were shared during the July presentations. The team will then present strategies to be considered to reduce volume of bacteria, sediments, and nutrients entering local streams during rain storm and snow melt events. PRWC will also seek community input to help finalize the Plan which will serve as a guidance document for state and local agencies to implement measures to further protect and enhance local water resources. The reduction of bacteria to local rivers and streams also supports a state-wide initiative to reduce the amount of bacteria and nutrients flowing into Long Island Sound.

Recommendations included in the forthcoming Plan are made with guidance and oversight from PRWC’s Land Use Committee whose membership includes but is not limited to representatives from local conservation organizations, town land use departments, as well as regional, state, and federal agencies. The development of the plan was funded in part by Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through a United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant as well as by Connecticut Community Foundation.

Additional information about the local water quality conditions and the Watershed Plan update can be found at www.pomperaug.org. Questions or comments may be directed to Carol Haskins at 203-263-0076 or outreach@pomperaug.org.

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