MDC Proposal to Provide Drinking Water to Mansfield

There is a MDC proposal to provide Farmington River water to the University of Connecticut and the Town of Mansfield.  You can learn more about this proposal here:

Dear Farmington River Friends,

This document is to answer any questions you may have about the current position of FRWA regarding a proposal by the Metropolitan District Commission to supply Farmington River water to the University of Connecticut. We thank you for your interest, and invite you to contact us if any further clarification is needed.

UConn has extended its comment period to January 31st on this issue and will be hosting a public hearing on this proposal in the Farmington Valley on January 22 at 7 pm in the Human Resources Training Room at the UConn Health Center’s Munson Building, 16 Munson Road, Farmington.

Eileen Fielding
Executive Director

FRWA Prevented from Commenting on MDC Proposal

Attorneys for the MDC have drawn FRWA’s attention to an agreement that was signed in 1998 to settle the controversy that arose from an earlier MDC attempt to divert water from the Farmington River. The MDC maintains that the agreement forbids FRWA’s advocacy in connection with the current controversy regarding a proposed diversion of millions of gallons to service UConn and its environs.

Given the MDC’s position, FRWA has decided to refrain from advocacy in this matter at this point.

FRWA and its legal counsel have met with MDC and its attorneys to discuss the 1998 agreement and its legal and practical implications.

Accordingly, FRWA withdraws any comments it made before MDC’s attorneys demanded that it cease and desist. The more than four hundred signatures placed on its petition in the few days that it was open will not be delivered. FRWA expresses no official opinion at this point about the MDC proposal.

FRWA will continue to post links to informative published information on its website. Another river-oriented group that might be helpful to interested persons is Rivers Alliance, whose website is Rivers Alliance is completely independent of FRWA.

Individual FRWA members and other concerned citizens may wish to voice their opinions and to petition their government leaders.

Among the possible recipients of comments are: [Mr. Esty heads the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] [Mr. Witkos is the state senator for part of the Farmington Valley]  and other town and state officials and news outlets

Below, “Comments are closed” means that you cannot comment on FRWA’s blog.  You can however comment to until January 31

Saville Dam & Old Barkhamsted Hollow Tour: October 27, 2012


Current FRWA members $5; non-members $10

Join us for a tour deep inside the bowels of the Saville Dam followed by a trek to some of the old Barkhamsted foundations spared inundation as the Barkhamsted Reservoir filled. The history and preservation of our watershed is intertwined with the story of the Metropolitan District and the pursuit of clean drinking water for Greater Hartford.

The MDC will guide us through the earthen embankment dam that impounds the 30 billion gallon Barkhamsted reservoir providing drinking water for Greater Hartford. Erik Landgraf will lead us around the relics of old Barkhamsted Hollow, a village mostly flooded by the creation of the Barkhamsted Reservoir in 1940. Structures that were not flooded were torn down or moved by the water company, but not without a trace. Trace history in your watershed!

Pre-registration is required, space is limited, contact FRWA at (860) 658-4442, or email: to register. Tour begins at 10:00 am, dress for the weather, wear footwear to walk in the woods, pack a lunch and water.

FRWA’s Annual Meeting: November 8th, 2012, 6pm to 9 pm

FRWA’s Annual Meeting
November 8th, 2012, 6pm to 9 pm
Tunxis Plantation Golf Course
Tavern on the Green

This year our Keynote Speaker is Andrew Fisk of the Connecticut River Watershed Council with a talk on the Connecticut River and its Designation as our Nation's first Blueway.  In addition, we will highlight our achievements for the year, have a lively and diverse silent auction and leave plenty of time for socializing and merriment.

Check your mailbox in early October for our Annual Meeting invitation. Tickets are $40 for current members and $50 for non-members or email your RSVP directly to Aimee to apetras 'at'

Streambugs & Pond Critters: September 22, 2012, 10am – noon

Explore the fascinating life of Walton Pond and Poplar Swamp Brook with the Farmington River Watershed Association. Spend the morning pond-side and wading in the brook to observe, identify, and marvel at the life histories and ecology of insects and other invertebrates that inhabit still and flowing waters. Learn how and why we use aquatic insects in the FRWA biomonitoring program to monitor water quality throughout the Watershed.

Program open to all ages, children must be accompanied by adult. Rain or shine, dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear to wade into the water (water shoes, old sneakers, or waders).  Advance registration is required.  Please contact FRWA at 860-658-4442 or email to register.

Stream bugs & Pond Critters: September 22, 2012, 10 am to noon, Winding Trails

RBV Refresher: September 27, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Experienced volunteers are needed to help sample for aquatic insects as part of our annual Aquatic Macroinvertebrate (RBV) Survey. Please contact us to borrow a sampling kit and we will direct you to streams in need of sampling. We also invite experienced RBV samplers to drop in for an informal evening RBV refresher and a chance to review some of the RBV “bugs” up close. Please contact FRWA at 860-658-4442 or email to let us know if you will be coming.

RBV Refresher: September 27, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

FRWA World Headquarters: 749 Hopmeadow Street Simsbury

FRWA Aquatic Insect Sampling Workshop: October 13, 9 am to 2 pm

FRWA holds our annual Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey this fall in Connecticut’s Upper Farmington River Watershed. Volunteers are needed to help sample for aquatic insects as indicators of water quality. Explore the fascinating life of local streams throughout the Farmington River Watershed!

We begin with an indoor workshop to demonstrate collection and identification techniques and explain the use of aquatic organisms in water quality monitoring. Following the indoor training and lunch, teams will move out to sample various Farmington River Watershed streams. Participants wade into the water, collect organisms into a net, sort and identify and preserve a representative sample for verification. The program follows CT DEEP Rapid Biomonitoring for Volunteers (RBV) protocol and results help FRWA and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection monitor water quality changes in the Farmington River Watershed.

No previous experience necessary, older children welcome with adult. Lunch will be provided, bring footwear to wade into the water (waders, water shoes or old sneakers). Program will be held rain or shine; please dress for the weather. Space is limited, advance registration is required. Please contact FRWA at 860-658-4442 or email to register.

Saturday, October 13, 9 am to 2 pm, Squire’s Tavern, Peoples State Forest, Pleasant Valley

UPDATED: FRWA Raffles a Guild Guitar!

FRWA Raffles Guild D-40 Guitar

We have a winner in our guitar raffle!  At the raffle drawing, held Nov. 15 at 6 PM at the FRWA office, the winning ticket belonged to Chuck Bird of Burlington, CT.  Congratulations to Chuck and our sincere thanks to all who participated in the raffle! Chuck and his friend Paul Willis are active in Friends of Sessions Woods– and may actually use the guitar in a second fundraiser for their own conservation organization!  Will keep you posted…

Last year we had so much fun and the response was so enthusiastic that we decided to do it again!  This time, the Grand Prize guitar is a Guild D-40 Bluegrass Jubilee in Natural with Case, built in New Hartford, Connecticut by Guild Guitars (  It has a list value of $3,199.99 .  Notable guitarists who played a Guild D-40 include Richie Havens (during Woodstock and beyond) and Pat Metheny.

Like last year, a very limited number of tickets have been printed so your chances are good!  Tickets are $20 each and all proceeds go to support FRWA’s programs.  Drawing will take place on November 15, 6pm at the Simsbury Free Library.  Winner need not be present to win.  Act now to get a chance to own a guitar played by the very best!

Contact us at the FRWA office for tickets: (860) 658-4442 ext “0”.

Spoonville Dam is gone!

Spoonville Dam is gone from Tariffville Gorge!  Demolition of this derelict dam, breached since 1955, started on July 9.  By July 31 the dam and its fragments were removed.

Spoonville Dam after removal in end of July

Workers from Gleim Environmental Group, a dam removal company based in Pennsylvania, hammered the concrete structure into fragments that were trucked out of the river and recycled.   When the work was complete, the river channel had been restored to the bedrock ledge that the dam had been built upon.  

With the dam gone, migrating fish from the Atlantic Ocean, such as American shad (our state fish), will be better able to move upstream to reach their historic breeding areas in the Farmington River.   This improvement in fish passage is one step in a multi-part process of restoring the river as a migratory route for shad, alewife, blueback herring, lampreys, and sea-run trout.  Other steps needed are new fish passage facilities at

Rainbow Dam in Windsor, Winchell Smith Dam in Farmington, and the Collinsville Dams in Avon/Burlington/Canton.   But removal of Spoonville dam is already beneficial, as it allows year-round resident fish species to travel upstream or downstream to find the best habitats.People benefit from the removal too, though whitewater paddlers miss the dramatic play feature provided by the breach in the dam.  Swimming and boating in this part of the river are now safer, and the fishing should remain good!  We extend hearty thanks to all our project partners, including Princeton Hydro Engineering, Gleim Environmental Group, CT DEEP, CL&P (the dam owners), and all the members of FRWA whose support makes work like this possible!

Fun facts about Spoonville Dam’s removal

Before removal

Spoonville Dam in early July before removal

  • Date the dam was constructed:  1899, to supply electric power to Hartford
  • First major flood that threatened the dam: 1900
  • Major flood that broke the dam: 1955
  • Size of structure removed (not including fragments):  128 ft long, 25 ft  high, 30 feet thick
  • Amount of concrete taken out of river:  About 2,000 cubic yards
  • Stone brought in to support construction vehicles (and brought back out afterward): 1200 tons
  • Number of American shad migrating up Connecticut River in 2012:  499,132
  • Number of American shad counted in the Farmington River in 2012:  174
  • Estimated number of adult American shad the Farmington River could support:  20,000

Farmington River Clean-Up – Help Us and Volunteer!


The Farmington River Watershed Association’s (FRWA) 25th Annual Farmington River Clean-up is set for Saturday, September 29th, from 9:30am to 2:00pm.

Want to help keep our beautiful river clean for our enjoyment, our communities, and the habitat of animals? Then please join us and other volunteers for the annual Clean-Up! The Clean-up is a great community event designed to get people and groups of all ages involved in cleaning up litter along the banks of the Farmington River and its tributaries.  Several meeting sites will be actively cleaning the banks of the River in Avon, Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington, Granby, Simsbury and Windsor. Garbage bags and gloves are provided to all participants, through generous donations from local businesses and stores.

After the Clean-up, volunteers are invited to FRWA’s headquarters for a family picnic where refreshments, sandwiches and pizza will be served.  FRWA’s office is located at 749 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury, CT.

For more information on how you can help with the Farmington River Clean-up and to register for a specific site, please call FRWA at (860)-658-4442, extension 0 or visit their website at