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Rivers Alliance of CT Priority Topics

River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands

Protecting Open Space and Drinking Water Lands

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Dec 7, 2020

Moratorium Needed on Large Scale Solar Permitting Impacting Natural or Working Lands

The Rivers Alliance Board of Directors has asked the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Katie S. Dykes to issue a moratorium on permitting for large scale solar installations impacting natural or working lands.

“Given the number of applications before the Siting Council, the Rivers Alliance board voted unanimously to support a moratorium until the Siting Council reviews the recommendations from the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) and, in coordination with DEEP, adopts new standards for review. We understand that PA 17-218 was enacted to protect prime farmland and core forests. It is evident, however, that we are still losing farm and forestland to solar development at an alarming rate. The GC3 working groups have identified critical ecosystem services provided by our natural and working lands that are not addressed by the legislation and are not being considered by DEEP or the Siting Council.”

Read the full letter here

Archived articles and links


·         DPH High Quality Source List ‐ Future Sources 

·         Celebrate the passage of Question #2 !Link to Protect CT Public Lands


·         Mayor of New Britain Withdraws Quarry Proposal

·         Saving Precious Water: The Tilcon Precedent

·         Aug 24 Water Planning Council (WPC) vote on finalization of comments to be submitted to the Legislature concerning  An Environmental Study for a Change in Use of New Britain Water Company Land

·         Video of Aug 7 presentation by Southington officials to the WPC
New Britain Herald: Southington says existing Tilcon operations affecting water supply (Aug 9)
Hartford Courant: Southington Water Officials Oppose Tilcon Quarry (Aug 3)

·         WNPR’s Take on Tilcon Mining in Reservoir Watershed (July 17)

·         News coverage of the June 26 New Britain - Tilcon hearing:

o    Hartford Courant: A Crowd Opposes Tilcon Plan, But New Britain Water Utility Argues It Will Help City Water Supply

o    WFSB CBS Channel 3:  Hearing held on Tilcon proposal for expansion into New Britain's watersheds

o    WVIT NBC Channel 30: Debate Rages Over Proposed Tilcon CT Expansion into New Britain Watershed Lands

·         Rivers Alliance Comments on CEQ and WPC Reports (May 25)

·         WPC Comments on Environmental Study of Proposed Rock Quarry in Reservoir Land (May 29)

·         CEQ Report on Environmental Study of Proposed Rock Quarry in Reservoir Land (May 25)

·         Rivers Alliance Comments on the Tilcon Study (Apr 12)

·         Water Planning Council (WPC), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Request Comments on New Britain Water Dept - Tilcon Report (Apr 9)

·         Torrington City Council Approves Woodridge Lake Sewer Line (Mar 20)

·         New Britain Water Dept Releases Tilcon Report (Mar 8)

·         Torrington Water Company Protests Sewer in Source Water Lands (Feb 26)

·         Letter to Editor Re New Britain Water Department and Tilcon Report (Jan 15)


·         Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Applications Due FEB 1, 2018,  INFORMATION SESSIONS November 14 and 16

·         Rivers Alliance Comments on the Conservation and Development Policies Plan 2018-2023 (PCD)

·         Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grants

·         Presentation on LAND CONSERVATION An Overview of 3 Plans at the Oct 5 CT Watershed Conservation Network Conference

·         Draft State Plan of Conservation and Development Available for Comment

·         DEEP Announces New Open Space Acquisition Strategy

·         Comment Opportunity to Protect Class I/II Land


·         Dkt. No. 16-08-43 New Britain Water Company Land

·         News Article: Cities Face Dramatic Increase In Water Treatment Spending When Watersheds Are Developed



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Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Nov 13, 2018

Question 2 Passes in a Landslide
Public Lands Now Protected
New Rules Limit Their Conveyance

Link to Protect CT Public LandsThank you all who voted YES on Question 2 on ballot on November 6.   This vote approved the first ever environmental amendment to the state Constitution. 
Question#2 passed with the support of almost 85% people voting.  It gives us a new constitutional right to a public hearing before public lands can be sold, swapped, or given away by in special acts in the  General Assembly.  Following the hearing, a proposed conveyance must pass by a 2/3 of legislators.
Congratulations to  us all!  And thanks.  Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the lead advocate on this issue, invites us:

To celebrate the passage of Question #2:

Sunday, November 18th
between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.
at Hammonasset Beach State Park
1288 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443

This event will be held rain or shine and will be a casual potluck event, so please bring “finger food/snacks” to share. We’ll supply beverages, utensils, etc.
RSVP here by Thursday, 11/15 to receive additional information on where we will be meeting at the Park (depending upon weather) and other details.
All the best,
Eric Hammerling, Executive Director”
Connecticut Forest & Park Association

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Oct 2, 2018



This is an amendment to the state constitution to

Link to Protect CT Public LandsThis Amendment puts common-sense limits on the legislature’s annual gifts of public lands to towns, businesses, and individuals for uses such as parking lots, cemeteries, gravel-truck roads, hotels, storage space, and more. These conveyances can now be done without a public hearing, without public notice, and without fair compensation to taxpayers.

Each section of a law conveying away state land begins with the magic word “Notwithstanding“, as in text along the lines of: ..."Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes" or regulation, or policy of the state of Connecticut, we are hereby conveying this land, which belongs to the people of Connecticut, to someone else. We may or may not require the someone-else to pay for the property.

The limits established by this Amendment are reasonable and similar to laws in neighboring states. The provisions will require the legislature to: (1) hold a public hearing on each conveyance and (2) gain a 2/3rds majority vote. 

Your YES vote will prevent valuable state-owned park, forest, wildlife management area, and farmland from being sold, swapped, or given away by the legislature without public notice or comment.

Supporters of this amendment have more information at 

Questions? Contact Rivers Alliance - - 860-361-9349,

Connecticut Forest & Park Association  - - (860) 346-TREE - ask for Eric Hammerling

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Aug 22, 2018

Mayor of New Britain Withdraws Quarry Proposal

In a letter to the Water Planning Council, New Britain Mayor Erin E. Stewart has withdrawn the proposal to mine public water supply Class I and II lands. Click here to see the full letter.

"... we agree with many of the interested parties that the Lenard study and the public have raised several issues which would necessitate further review before any such project could move forward. Given the increased cost to the City of that additional due diligence, the time it would require, and the depth of opposition to the proposal as a result of these unanswered questions, I have concluded that the most prudent course of action at theis time would be withdrawal of the proposal from further consideration."

This project  would have involved the City of New Britain leasing to the Tilcon mining company some 100 acres of reservoir land in Plainville owned by New Britain.  The project, originally proposed ten years ago, was highly controversial, because it intended rock mining in approximately 70 acres of this property,  a tract highly protected under state law as Class I and II source-water land .    The excavation basically would have stripped away the vegetation and soil on the entire 70 acres.  The key benefit would have been revenue for New Britain.  The proponents also made a case for the eventual creation of new reservoir (in 40 to 50 years); they argued that this would substantially improve the City’s water supply.   This claim did not appear to be well founded.     
The project was originally proposed in legislation ten years ago that would have relieved New Britain of the requirement of  obtaining approval from the Department of Public Health.  Opponents, including Rivers Alliance, Connecticut Fund for the Environment,  the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters,  and local residents managed to block  progress on the proposal.  In 2016, the project was resurrected via similar legislation that called for an environmental study that would be reviewed by the Water Planning Council and the Council on Environmental Quality. 

Opponents objected that the study (which was funded by New Britain) was inadequate; and opponents  continued to object vigorously to the project itself, both because of the vast destruction of valuable natural resources and the extremely bad precedent that would be set if , work were to be permitted.
Opposition from the environmental community was once again strong, and local residents were highly effective.  They formed an advocacy group, Protect Our Watersheds Connecticut, and organized evidence and comments.  Attorney Paul Zagorsky provided outstanding legal assistance.     
This spring and summer, the reviews by the Water Planning Council and the Council on Environmental Quality did not bode well for the applicants.  Moreover,  the city of Southington joined the opposition with strong claims that the project would damage Southington’s source waters, which (Southington representative stated) had already been compromised by Tilcon activity. 
The Water Planning Council has been preparing to announce a final decision on the project on Friday, August 24. 

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Aug 17, 2018

CT Law Journal Commentary

Saving Precious Water: The Tilcon Precedent

The public trust in water should not be for sale.

By Margaret Miner | August 16, 2018

A watershed decision is upon us and deserves our close attention if we are to preserve safe, clean drinking water for generations to come.

Click here to read the article after free registration with

In Connecticut, preserving the supply of high-quality drinking water by protection of adjacent open space has been embodied in law since Public Act 77-606 amended §25-32(b) of the General Statutes and added sections (c) and (d) to specifically require a “written permit” rather than “prior approval” for the disposition or use change in use of Class I and Class II land. Section 25-37(c) defines land owned by a water company as Class I, II or III. Class I and II land serves as a recharge region for a public drinking-water reservoir or well field, either directly or indirectly. For example, Class II land might abut a tributary stream to a distribution reservoir. Class III land is outside a drinking-water watershed and is lightly regulated.

The Regional Water Authority was formed from the New Haven Water Company, which dates back to 1849 and owned some 25,000 acres of land, mostly Class I and II—that is, mostly open space and mostly in the watershed of its drinking-water sources. Under the enabling legislation, the Department of Public Health was given authority to strictly regulate the sale, lease or any change of use of Class I or II land. Only minimal restrictions apply to Class III land.

For several decades, Class I and II lands were essentially untouchable. Almost any new activity required change-of-use approval, and normally such approvals were given only where the activity was in support of providing supply. The advantage for water companies was, and is, that sources protected by vegetated open space are typically of high quality, needing relatively little treatment. Protection of source-water lands was deemed so important that, in 2000, when a British company, Kelda, acquired Bridgeport Hydraulic Co., the state invested some $90 million to reinforce protections; the fear being that a foreign-owned company might not be subject to the relevant state law. (Kelda is now Aquarion and has been acquired by Eversource.)

Over the years, traditional protections for Class I and II lands have been difficult to maintain. Water use is down, and undisturbed land is a tempting asset to monetize. Strict interpretation of the law has been questioned; some publicly beneficial projects, such as clean-energy projects have been approved with conditions; and a few, relatively small projects have been approved with legislative exemptions. But despite the ever-increasing desire of water companies to squeeze additional revenue out of their real estate, protection of Class I and II lands has remained strong, and Connecticut continues to maintain an almost uniquely high standard for its potable-water sources. (Only Rhode Island has a similar standard.)

It is for this reason that a proposal by New Britain to lease 100 acres of its Class I and II lands to Tilcon Co. for rock mining caused policy shock when first proposed 10 years ago and revived in 2016. The current proposal is for 74 acres. While regulators were struggling with whether to approve projects such as a one-acre solar array on Class II land, Tilcon and New Britain were asking to wipe out an entire watershed, with the idea that after 40 to 50 years the empty hole could be made into a new reservoir. The DPH told the applicants that they would have to seek a change in the law, and in 2008 and 2016, legislation was indeed passed that required a study of the mining project, which study was never done.

Opposition to the project has been intense. The land at risk happens to be beautiful, ecologically rich and viewable from the popular Metacomet Trail. But, with respect to the policy impact, it would not matter if the land was unappealing. The foundational statutory responsibility of DPH and the state is to maintain the purity and adequacy of the public water supply. One can argue that this or that limited project on Class I or II land is consistent with that responsibility. But if the state were to say that stripping, blasting and excavating an entire source-water watershed can be done without impairing the purity and adequacy of the existing supply, there is virtually no conceivable activity that could be forbidden on protected land without flagrant inconsistency in interpreting the standards. The state’s high-quality drinking water would be at serious risk, and the process of treating the water for public consumption would become more challenging and costly.

The statutes are clear, the public policy is evident, the future need and our responsibility to generations not yet born is unquestionable. The rule of law should apply, no matter how great the short-term economic interests may be. The public trust in water should not be for sale.

Margaret Miner is the executive director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Aug 9, 2018

WPC Special Meeting Aug 24 to vote on finalization of comments to be submitted to the Legislature concerning An Environmental Study for a Change in Use of New Britain Water Company Land

This meeting will be open to members of the public, but participation will be limited to the members of the WPC. The Call-In Number for participants is 888-658-6260 and the Participant Code is 7094124. Meeting Notice here.

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Jun 25, 2018

Rivers Alliance Comments on Reports From CEQ and WPC Regarding the
Environmental Study of Proposed Rock Quarry in Reservoir Land

"... we continue to oppose this or any proposal to quarry in protected source-water land. We support the reports and findings of the councils.... The proposed quarrying and creation of a new reservoir is unnecessary for the adequacy of water supply, and is almost certain to degrade your water quality.   In addition, it would utterly destroy at least 70 acres of ecologically rich land, which is the irreplaceable heritage of the people of New Britain.   

Finally, this project would set an extraordinarily bad precedent for breaking a vital water law. ..."

Click here for our full comments
The video record of the hearing should be available soon on New Britain's website.

Click here for CEQ's comments on the Study.  
Click here for WPC comments on the Study  
The study can be found here (large file, long download)

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

May 29, 2018

WPC Comments on Environmental Study of Proposed Rock Quarry in Reservoir Land

On Tuesday May 29, the Water Planning Council (WPC) voted to unanimously approve a cover letter and comments and offer their guidance concerning the proposed project’s potential impact.   Click here to read their released text.

From their Executive Summary: "The WPC finds that the city’s report does not substantiate the need for the proposed new reservoir or, in fact, that the proposed reservoir would even be a viable public water storage facility.  Based on its review, the WPC finds that the proposal’s risks to the current public water system and the environment are significant and the city’s report does not make a plausible case for undertaking such an activity."

The study can be found here (large file, long download)

Water Planning Council webpage.

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

May 25, 2018

CEQ Report on Environmental Study of Proposed Rock Quarry in Reservoir Land

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has issued its evaluation of an environmental study of the effects of proposed rock mining by Tilcon in protected reservoir lands owned and managed by the City of New Britain.    Here is the CEQ announcement:

NEW!  May 25, 2018: Pursuant to Public Act 16-61 the Council has reviewed the report, Environmental Study: Change in Use of New Britain Water Company Land (Proposed Quarry Expansion and Future Water Storage Reservoir) and submitted its comments (click here) on the report to the City of New Britain.

From their Summary: "It is the conclusion of the Council that the environmental consequences of the proposal would be adverse and that the need for the additional water storage capacity is not established in the report."

The study can be found here (large file, long download)

CEQ webpage

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

April 12, 2018

Rivers Alliance Comments on the Tilcon Study

Rivers Alliance finds the study inadequate and flawed relative to the requirements of PA 16-61. 

We have submitted comments and testimony in the past (including comments on the 2008 version of this project), which I will not repeat at length here.  I also accept and refer you to the expert comments and testimony of Paul Zagorsky, Esq.,  Dr. Richard Judd, and others in New Britain’s Protect Our Watersheds group.  I have been able to verify their statements in all of the many instances in which I checked for validity.

The Lenard report was supposed to be an independent study but the longstanding financial relationships between and among the consultant, Lenard, the Tilcon company, and the City of New Britain belie any claim to independence.   In 2008, the legislature designated DPH to do a similar, independent study. (DPH declined for reason of inadequate resources.) No one at that time thought that New Britain could use its own engineering consultant to do an independent.  Yet throughout this report, Lenard is the source of the information, often recycled information from the past.   

We are supposed to have been given field notes and similar primary data, but it has not been forthcoming.  Such information should be made publicly available with the study.

The environmental study of the site does not cover all seasons in adequate detail.  It skimps on the much needed inventory of wildlife (animals and plants) on site.  Considering that all species on site will be destroyed, a full inventory is necessary to evaluate the extent of the environmental loss.

In the summary of environmental impacts, there is no mention that the already stressed Coppermine Brook will be further impaired by a skimming protocol that will almost continually divert water.  Lenard claims that that the brook will meet pending minimum flow standards.  But New Britain and/or Bristol pump water out of the stream via adjacent wells.  The recent results have included period of little flow and no flow at all.    Zero flow doesn’t meet any standard.   A separate analysis is needed to assess the extent of harm to the brook when it is subject to both skimming and pumping. 

The study glosses over the impacts to both supply and the environment during the 40 to 50 years that the watershed is being stripped of all life, soil, and valuable rock.  It gives a misleading calculation of the quantity of available clean water that will be lost.  It values only the runoff, or discharge, from the headwaters (wetlands) of two streams,  which it estimates to be 70,000 gpd.  But that is a small fraction of the quantity of water stored in 70 plus acres of watershed.  This is clean, high-quality water.  Even if one’s only concern is supply, this water in the ground (probably in the millions of gallons) is there, is secure (unless this project goes forward), and is available for use in an emergency.  Nature’s water storage is a gift to the residents of New Britain.  The report should quantify the amount of water now in storage.  

The report basically acknowledges that there  is no evidence that demand will increase significantly.  So it relies on assertions that demand might increase because we live in an uncertain world.   

To sum up.  The study is not independent.  It is incomplete.  And its conclusions are not always supported by the evidence it offers. 

Margaret Miner, Executive Director

Questions Regarding Chapter 4 and So-Called Flood Skimming

This report states that the new reservoir can be maintained at safe levels to meet supply demand by various diversions, including significantly by flood skimming of Coppermine Brook. Lots of numbers are presented in Chapter 4 – Updated Surface Water Safe Yield Study with New Storage Reservoir (pdf file page 53 of 457) pages with printed prefixes of "4-", where page numbers are actually printed. For references,  click here for a faster loading version of Chapter 4 that is searchable

Their discussion reveals that what they call “flood skimming” is taking all the water above the required minimum flow rate set in the streamflow regulations for Class 3. Their term is very misleading because it implies taking a little off the top when there are high flows, but this not what is described or used in their calculations.  They should call it “Diversion Maximization”  According to their plan, the stream will never flow higher than the minimum rate. 

Here follow questions raised by their analysis.

All the safe yield calculations in this section are based on flows  in the drought of the 1960s. For Coppermine Brook,  the stream gage in Burlington is the reference. and 1965 is identified as the year having the lowest monthly mean flow for that gage. They identified 2016 as the second lowest.

The climate in the 1960s was far different than now however. In the 1960s the monthly average flow they cite was based on precipitation that was low throughout the year.  In recent years precipitation has been near-normal over the winter and early spring but consistently below normal in summer and fall. For example, the September 2016 low flows according to the Burlington gage were much lower than the September flows from the 1960s.  September flows are particularly important because flows usually are lowest at that time.   

The Bunnell (Burlington) Brook September 1965 average daily mean flow was 0.86 cubic feet per second. Bunnell (Burlington) Brook's 2016 average daily September mean flow was 0.49 cubic feet per second. Streamflow from the 1960s is not a reliable predictor for the 2060s. 

Also, in this report calculations of water availability are based on all water sources that New Britain could use, including MDC's Nepaug Reservoir. New Britain has rarely pumped water from that reservoir for various reasons including cost.   

The report emphasizes calculations of  how much more water New Britain will have available after the new reservoir is filled in 40 something years.  But it is not clear how much water storage capacity would be destroyed in the mining process.  The report calculates a loss of only 0.07 MGD (70,000 gpd) as a result of the elimination of storage capacity in the 108 acres of watershed lands that will be mined. (pdf file page 78 of 457, printed page 4-23).  That appears too low.

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

April 9, 2018

Water Planning Council (WPC), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), 
Request Comments on New Britain Water Department - Tilcon Report

The City of New Britain has released a study on the controversial plan, which has been promoted for many years, to allow the Tilcon mining company to rock mine in some 100 acres of protected reservoir lands (Class I and II lands) owned by New Britain and its Water Department.  This study was mandated by statute in 2016.  It is supposed to address the environmental impacts of total destruction of the reservoir lands   

Your comments on the study will be important.

We give here below some examples of comments.

In a recent email, Save Our Water Connecticut summarized well views of the many opponents (including Rivers Alliance) to the City of New Britain’s proposal.  Here are their remarks on the precedent this project would set.

The worst outcome: setting a precedent for swapping our key watershed lands for corporate profits or municipal gain. Class I and II watersheds buffer our water from environmental contaminants and filter it for our aquifers. The recent State Water Plan draft lists protection of watershed land as one of its top ten priorities and re-states CT's dedication to preserving the highest quality drinking water in the nation.  

If a critical appraisal of New Britain's drinking water needs demonstrates a real need for more water capacity, let's solve it in a less destructive way.

Protect Our Watersheds CT's Facebook page summarizes concerns we share regarding the recently released Report:

The environmental study recently completed by Lenard Engineering- as a prerequisite to proceeding with Tilcon’s expansion- is also of cause for grave concern.

It appears that multiple vernal pools will be lost or impacted, endangering several amphibian and reptile species; that breeding bird species of “Greatest Conservation Need” will lose critical habitat; that a portion of the Metacomet trail will be destroyed; that significant forested lands will be eliminated; and that inadequacies in the study led to failure to investigate certain wildlife during particularly important periods.

Essentially, the entire habitat will be lost at the new quarry site and degraded along its adjacent limits. Additionally, the billions of gallons of filtered water currently provided by the 131 acres will be lost during the 40 years of strip mining.

River Alliance testimony in 2016 is still relevant. 

The CT Water Planning Council (WPC) is requesting comments on the report, officially titled "Environmental Study Change in use of New Britain Water Company Land/Proposed Quarry Expansion and Future Water Storage Reservoir

The WPC would prefer you to use the following link for comments:

You can also send comments to  The email address is less preferred.  Comments should be kept as concise as possible.

Even more important, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is also requesting comments on the report. They have pledged to consider comments received before end of day April 13 when they review the report themselves.  (The review will start the following week.)  However, there is no formal deadline. Please send comments to . 

Comments on the information in the report itself, rather than on the merits of the proposed project, would be most useful at this stage.  Since the report is huge, you may want to focus on the environmental section. 

Later in the year, the City of New Britain will hold a public hearing, and there will be additional opportunities to submit written comments at that time. 

There will be an opportunity for the public to make brief comments at the CEQ's regular monthly meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Because of time limitations, the Council encourages detailed comments to be submitted in writing

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

March 8, 2018

New Britain Water Dept Releases Tilcon Report

The City of New Britain has released its “Environmental Study Change in Use of New Britain Water Company Land/Proposed Quarry Expansion and Future Water Storage Reservoir.” This study was required by the legislature in 2016 as a precondition to continued efforts by the City New Britain to allow the Tilcon mining company to do total rock excavation in 130 acres of drinking-water reservoir land owned by the city. Approximately 100 acres of this site comprise highly protected Class I and II watershed lands. Because the CT Department of Public Health would not approve the project, the city and Tilcon went to the legislature. The project has been opposed by virtually the entire environmental community of Connecticut and by numerous local and regional residents. See the website for Protect Our Watersheds Connecticut.

Here’s a link to the study itself (which Protect Our Watersheds and Rivers Alliance consider incomplete and misleading).

Also read Margaret Miner's letter to the editor.

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands

Feb. 26, 2018

Precedent-setting Dispute Re Sewer Line in
Source-Water Lands

Please note that the next hearing will be held on Monday, March 5, 6:30 PM at the Torrington City Hall. The City Council will have the opportunity to ask DPH questions, hear from city staff in response to the questions asked and allow the applicant rebuttal. Any changes can be found on the City of Torrington website

Is it a good idea to run a new sewer line through land in the watershed of a reservoir or other drinking-water source?

If this land is owned by a water company, it is called Class I or II land, and it is strictly protected by statute.  Is it legal to run a new sewer line across or directly next to Class I or II land?  

These questions are at the heart of a year-long controversy that has pitted the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) against both the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Torrington Water Co.  DEEP has proposed and promoted construction of  a sewer main system to connect wastewater managed by the Woodridge Lake Sewer District in Goshen to the City of Torrington's  wastewater system for transmission to the Torrington treatment facility, which is in Harwinton, six miles away.  The sewer would be a force main (pressurized pipe). When Torrington Water Company discovered that the route would go through source-water land and impinge on protected land owned by the company, it launched an intense protest.  The company's complaints were supported in significant part by Rivers Alliance and Connecticut Fund for the Environment. DPH concluded in a novel process that it DID have jurisdiction over the route and that the sewer line would pose a risk to clean water.  Nevertheless, DPH did support the DEEP proposed route but with numerous important conditions.  Torrington Water is still advocating for a different route, further away from source water.  Rivers Alliance supports local, on-site solution, as best option, and a different route as next best (click here for our testimony).  Oddly, the City of Torrington's acceptance of the controversial route was never secured, and presently there is a continued hearing in Torrington.  It appears that the great majority of the many residents who attended the first night of the hearing opposed the idea of accepting sewage from Woodridge Lake (in Goshen).  

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands

How to comment about the Environmental Study
On a Change In Use Of New Britain Water Company Land
[CT PURA 16-08-43]

You have to register on PURA's website, and comments have to be have to be in a Word or PDF document that you have prepared ahead of time. If you have used their system before, you can skip to step 2. PURA's instructions are here.

  1. Here is a link to the Web Filing main page that describes how to register with PURA.  If you go there, choose the link you will see under "Step 2" to create a new account. You will get an email to complete the registration process.
  2. Once you are registered with PURA, you can log in here
  3. After registering and logging in, try this link to go directly to the form to fill in to submit correspondence regarding this docket, skipping a couple steps described below. This link may not work on all web browsers though. If it does work, skip to our Submission Page Instructions (step 5) below.
  4. If the link above (step 3) does not work for you, go to the general docket submission webpage.  On that page, you have to fill in the docket number 16-08-43 and make sure the title “ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY ON A CHANGE IN USE OF NEW BRITAIN WATER COMPANY LAND” shows up automatically in the title field. Then choose “Correspondence” from the “Choose Type of Filing” drop-down list. An alert box should pop up that asks “Would you like to create a new Correspondence for Docket 17-06-30?” Click “OK.”  If that box does not show up, you may have disable your pop-up blocker for that website, then try again.
  5. Submission Page Instructions: On the submission page, your identification information should be pre-filled in. On this page, be sure to put a brief summary of your comments in the text box labeled “Description” because it may help future searches. At the bottom of the page is an upload button to submit your pre-written MS Word or PDF document. 
  6. Did it work? Check the list of documents on the PURA docket website. This list is arranged alphabetically, so your "Correspondence" should be near the beginning of the list. Comments typically show up later in the day they were posted, but if you submitted it late in an afternoon, they may not be able to process it until the next business day. 

Need help? Feel free to contact Rivers Alliance:, 860-361-9349. PURA, also, has these sources of help: 

Is there help available if we have questions or problems with the Web Filing System?

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

January 2018

Letter to Editor Re. New Britain Water Department and Tilcon Report

OpEd letter to the New Britain Herald:

To the Editor: Thanks so much for continuing to report in detail on New Britain’s apparent determination to go forward with rock mining in reservoir lands. Tilcon sometimes seems to imply that, after the environmental study required by the legislature is completed, the project will be smooth sailing.  Probably not. However, I write to point out the absurdity of needing a study in order to determine the environmental impact of a project that will remove 100 percent of the plants and animals from the target area, along with all the topsoil as well as the most valuable underlying rock. Total destruction of the environment is an adverse impact. No one needs a study to prove that. The study will, however, be useful, if the project goes forward, as an historical record of all the valuable natural resources and wildlife that at one time existed at this site and protected drinking water for the people of New Britain.   

Margaret Miner, Exec. Dir.,
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut


Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Rivers Alliance Comments on the Conservation and Development
Policies Plan 2018-2023 (PCD)

To read Rivers Alliance's full comments (MS Word format), click here. Here is a summary:

We commend many of the policies and goals to foster development around existing urban areas and transportation infrastructure, following principles of “smart growth” which are more economical and environmentally sustainable. 

We understand some of the reasons that the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), in recent years, has streamlined its PCD, but we join with the American Water Works Association and the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority in expressing concern that much of the detail and clear commitment that characterized former plans has been stripped out.  The broad-brush language used, perhaps meant to be flexible, is often nebulous and seems to indicate that existing environmental and health protections are negotiable and should be balanced against development objectives.  A number of the broad policy goals appear contradictory or to ignore the benefits and protections for our natural resources. 

Too many of the draft PCD’s good recommendations are undermined by weak language and lack of specificity.  Every time an action is “encouraged” or “supported” or the like, please specify how and by whom.  We support in general the comments from the Weantinoge Land Trust and its request that the PCD incorporate more climate science into planning principles.  We support in particular one of its comments calling attention to a vague call for encouragement and suggesting that incentives in support of goals should be described. 

One of the primary goals of Rivers Alliance is the protection of natural open space.  Open space kept as forest or fields is the best, most economical protector of water quality.  State policy has traditionally ranked protection of drinking-water lands as its highest land protection goal; once lost, these lands cannot be recovered.  The priority is protection not just of sources used currently as drinking water but of all high-quality waters that can be classified as potentially future drinking-water sources.  Protection of source-water land provides many unique services enhancing human and ecological health, in addition to providing reliable water supplies.

Most of our comments focus Growth Principle #4.  Our worry is that the language often seems to indicate that existing land protections are negotiable and should be balanced against development objectives.  We believe the draft PCD should incorporate, either directly or by reference, the policies and actions set forth in the state’s Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy; 2016-2020 Green Plan (Green Plan.).  The Green Plan’s clear priority is to add lands protecting the state’s “Natural Waters and Drinking Water Resources.” 

The state's webpage for the Draft Conservation and Development Policies Plan 2018-2023 is here.

To read Rivers Alliance's full comments, click here. 

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Applications Due Feb 1

The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is accepting applications from municipalities, non-profit land conservation organizations, and water companies for the next round of the competitive Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.

The application deadline is February 1, 2018.

The Department will be awarding grants to projects that offer the highest conservation and recreational value – and that leverage the greatest percentage of private and municipal funding.

DEEP is also accepting applications from municipalities (often in partnership with non-profits) under the competitive Urban Green and Community Garden Program.

Grants for the above programs will be based on the merit of the project and the level of funds available. Funding for these grants is derived from State Bond funds and/or from the Community Investment Act (CIA). DEEP is accepting applications, but awards will not be made until funding becomes available.

Grant Questionnaire and Application

Grant Program Overview & Selection

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Information and Assistance

For more information about DEEP’s OSWA Program contact Dave Stygar at (860) 424-3081 or Allyson Clarke at (860) 424-3774.

The Connecticut Land Conservation Council is working with DEEP to schedule OSWA Information Sessions in November to assist you in putting together your applications.  Go to

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Draft State Plan of Conservation and Development Available for Comment

May 12, 2017

The State Office of Policy and Management (OPM) updates the State Conservation and Development Plan once every five years.  Each 5-year revision to the State C&D Plan is prepared with consultation from regional councils of governments, municipalities, state agencies, and the public.  In summer 2016, OPM began the State C&D Plan revision process for the 2018-2023 State C&D Plan, which must be submitted to the General Assembly by December 31, 2017.  Check their web page for information and updates concerning the 2018-2023 State C&D Plan revision. The Public Review & Comment Period ends October 16, 2017

The Revised Draft 2018-2023 State C&D Plan is available here.

OPM invites all interested persons to express their views on the Draft Plan, either verbally or in writing, at any of the public hearings scheduled across the state.  In addition, OPM will accept written comments on the Draft Plan at any time up to the close of business (5:00 PM) on October 16, 2017.  Written comments may be emailed, postal mail, or faxed to: 

Daniel Morley, Office of Policy and Management
450 Capitol Avenue, MS #54ORG
Hartford, CT 06106-1379



Written comments and proposed edits to the Locational Guide Map may also be submitted using an interactive web-based map editor (soon available), or by way of GIS shapefiles, digital/PDF maps, or printed maps.  For example, if a new sewer service area in your municipality is not properly reflected in OPM's PFA boundaries, please submit a map of the new sewer service area boundaries.  Specifically, OPM is requesting all municipalities to update the following data layers as appropriate:

·         Village Priority Funding Areas: request edits to the boundaries of existing VPFAs or the establishment of new VPFAs.

·         Local Conservation Priorities: areas deemed to be of high conservation priority by the municipality

·         Protected Lands: update the boundaries of properties that are legally protected from development (water company owned lands, deed restricted lands, etc.)

·         Local Historic Districts:  update the boundaries of Local Historic Districts as applicable 

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Feb 21, 2017

DEEP Announces New Open Space Acquisition Strategy

The Green Plan is Connecticut's open-space acquisition plan. It is a report on the state's open space program and policy. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has updated the 2016-2020 Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy (Green Plan), which guides the state's effort to meet its goal of conserving 21% of Connecticut's land base as open space by year 2023. The Green Plan and information on Connecticut open space is available for viewing and downloading at Questions or comments may be directed to Jamie Sydoriak at>

In their press release DEEP reports: "The plan recommends the acquisition of certain lands for environmental and public recreation conservation centers around four major themes: "Natural Waters and Drinking Water Resources," "Areas Significant to the Coast," "Natural Heritage Resources," and "Natural Resource-based Outdoor Recreation." The Green Plan's statewide open space acquisition priorities were developed in coordination with and support of other key State planning documents related to open space, such as the Climate Change Preparedness Plan, Forestry Action Plan, Wildlife Action Plan, and Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. In addition, a series of meetings and discussions were held with internal and external conservation partners. A draft version of the plan was revised based on a public comment period."

Rivers Alliance of CT > Priority Topics  > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands >

Jan 13, 2017

Comment Opportunity to Protect Class I/II Land

Please write to CT DPH Commissioner Raul Pino if you wish to communicate concern about a plan to convey wastewater from the Woodridge Lake Sewer District to the Torrington wastewater treatment facility in Harwinton. This sewer crosses a section of Class II reservoir land belonging to Torrington Water Company, and extends for a mile along the drinking-water watershed on land not belonging to the water company (and therefore not legally Class II). DEEP believes that the portion of the pipeline that crosses the property of the water company is not “in” Class II land because it will be in the right-of-way for Route 4 (which runs through the property.)

Contact Information:
Commissioner Raul Pino, MD, MPH
CT Department of Public Health,
410 Capitol Avenue, Hartford CT 06134

Email is (  cc to (

In NW Connecticut, the Torrington Water Company is opposing a proposal by the Woodridge Lake Sewer District (WLSD) and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to run a wastewater pipe through Torrington Water Company Class I/II land to convey sewage from the lake community in Goshen to the City of Torrington's wastewater treatment plant in Harwinton. In Connecticut policy and law, Class I/II lands have the highest priority for protection. They are water company-owned recharge areas for drinking water sources.

Excerpt from Rivers Alliance letter (1/3/17) to Commissioner Pino:

The proposed plan would pipe the wastewater from the Woodridge Lake community across Class I and II land belonging to the Torrington Water Company. As you know, Class I and II lands have the highest priority for protection under Connecticut law. No projects are allowed therein, except certain infrastructure directly related to water supply. The Department of Public Health (DPH) has the chief responsibility for upholding this protection.

Our first worry has to do with the precedent. This is the same worry that led so many groups in 2015-2016 to oppose the proposed Kinder-Morgan Tennessee Gas pipeline under the Class II reservoir recharge lands belonging to the Metropolitan District in West Hartford. That project was eventually abandoned by its proponents.

Second is the risk of direct harm in the field associated with construction, maintenance, and accidents, including pipe flaws and failures. DEEP and others say that the pipe will he engineered with extra safeguards against accidents. All engineered sewer lines are designed to be safe. Nevertheless, accidents happen.

Third, the proposed project will convey thousands of gallons of water daily out of one watershed and into another. As this summer's drought illustrated, basins in the northwest corner can readily run dry. Whenever possible, water should he kept local. Moreover, the waters in the relevant areas are of unusually high quality: almost all are classified as AA, that is, water used for or suitable for drinking. The less disruption of these watersheds, the better.

Finally, there appear to be feasible alternatives for the wastewater problems in the WLSD. There are alternative routes that would avoid Class I and II land. There is also an opportunity for local treatment making use of the 90-acre property now acting as a treatment and leach held. Our research indicates that technology exists that is suitable for wastewater treatment in an area in need of remediation.

We ask that you oppose this project, at least insofar as it would enter the protected recharge land of the Torrington Water Company.

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River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Protecting State Open Space and Drinking Water Lands


Oct 25, 2016

 Public Act 16-61 AAC, An Environmental Study On a Change In Use Of New Britain Water Company Land

Dkt. No. 16-08-43: A list of all documents filed with the state under this docket can be found at:

PURA's Docket access page is at:, for account or login assistance, please contact the DEEP HelpDesk at 860-424-3882 or 

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