The Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (“PRWC”) invites residents and other interested individuals of Bethlehem, Woodbury, Southbury, Washington, Roxbury, Watertown, Morris, and Middlebury to attend one of three upcoming presentations to learn about the water quality conditions of local rivers and streams flowing through the Pomperaug Watershed.
The presentations will provide an update and overview of the stream conditions as described in Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Integrated most recent Water Quality Report to Congress (2016) as well as the results of a geospatial computer model used to estimate the volume sediment, nutrients, and bacteria that have potential to find their way into nearby rivers and streams during a rain storm or during snow melt.
“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.”
PRWC is in the process of updating its 2005 Watershed Management Plan to a 9-Element Watershed Based Plan (“Plan”), a project 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. Revisions to the Plan are being 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.
A key milestone for the Plan was recently completed and is ready to share and pertains to the pollutant loading model that was applied to the watershed. The model results describe the relative potential of different land cover types to contribute pollutants like bacteria, nutrients, and sediment to nearby rivers and streams as well as the overall volume of each pollutant that could end up in a local waterway. Both the relative potential and volume are estimated using a computer-based pollutant loading model and the most current land cover, precipitation, soil, slope, and other geospatial data available.
The main 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 and EPA. There are four stream segments in the Pomperaug Basin where in-stream bacteria levels were measured in excess of the water quality standard for recreation. It is important to note that the DEEP data supporting these listings are limited and are dated. Further evaluation and potential restoration is required to remove these stream segments from the State/Federal list of impaired waters.
During the upcoming presentations, PRWC and the environmental consulting team of Fuss & O’Neill will describe 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, explain the results of the pollutant loading model, and discuss general strategies that could be implemented to reduce the volume of bacteria entering local streams. PRWC will seek community input to help refine the Plan which will serve as a road map 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.
The three presentations coming up will be identical in content and are being offered at different locations and times throughout the watershed with the hope to make it convenient for residents to attend. Presentation dates, times, and locations are: Tuesday July 17 at 7:00PM in the Shove Building at the Woodbury Municipal Complex; Wednesday July 18 at 2:00 PM in Room 205 at Southbury Town Hall; and Wednesday July 18 at 6:30 PM in the Leever Room at the Bethlehem Public Library.
A fourth presentation, one that integrates the community input during the July presentations and overall strategies included in the updated Watershed Pan, is scheduled for Wednesday August 22 at 7:00 PM at the Woodbury Senior Center.