Drought 2016: An Open Letter from FRWA Board President

Dear FRWA Supporters,

Deborah Leonard, artist and FRWA board member, dedicated this painting to water conservation awareness. Learn more about Deborah at deborahleonardart.com

Deborah Leonard, artist and FRWA board member, dedicated this painting to water conservation awareness. Learn more about Deborah at deborahleonardart.com

It has been a long hot dry summer, followed by a spectacular warm dry fall. We could not have asked for a better stretch of weather, or could we? I want to share with you my personal experience over the past several weeks. Not long ago I awoke on a Friday morning to find that I was completely out of water. Not a drop from any faucet in the house.

After having my well system looked at, I hoped it was something simple, I was informed that my well had run dry and that my options were a hydrofrack or a new well. Two weeks later the hydrofrack took place and the following morning 2300 gallons of water had disappeared. A complete and total failure as the water table has dropped so significantly that the water seeped back into the earth.

As I write this, I am now on a waiting list to have a new well drilled. Drillers are presently booked out months in advance and their clients are doing what I am doing, hauling water in rain barrels, pumping it into their systems, showering and doing laundry at neighbor’s homes who are on city water. I am told by people in the water business that they have never seen it this bad.  What I realized in all of this is how few people have any recognition that we are in a severe drought. When I describe my experience, people look at me incredulously and tell me they had no idea. Frankly unless you drive by a reservoir, a river or a lake there is no indication that we are in such dire straits.

At the monthly FRWA meetings we discuss the issue regularly but until it hits home you truly have no idea. I am now living day to day, hoping to be able to flush the toilet, possibly wash a dish or two or get a drink. Life has completely changed and what I once took for granted, fresh clean running water, has become a luxury.

Now is the time for public awareness! Now is the time for everyone to recognize the need for conservation! This can start at home.

  • Don’t let water run while you brush your teeth or wash your face.
  • Cut down on your time in the shower ( an eight minute shower uses over 18 gallons of water).
  • Check for leaky or running toilets.
  • Follow the saying “ if it’s yellow just be mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. Even the most efficient toilets use 1.6 gallons a flush. Think of that in terms of a gallon and a half container of milk or cider you might carry from the store. It’s a lot of liquid.
  • Invest in rain barrels. They hold 50 gallons of liquid and had I not had them I would not have been able to move the 400 gallons of city water I needed to keep the house running.
  • Stop watering the gardens and lawns…why do that at this time of year to begin with, yet I see it all the time.
  • Stop washing your car! There are a myriad of small steps that everyone can take to preserve and conserve this precious resource that we all take for granted.
  • Last and not least, spread the word. People who are not suffering or who are not directly impacted are not going to be concerned. I am as guilty of this as anyone and I should have known better. Look at pictures of the local water systems or better yet take a drive by the Farmington River and look at its levels. It’s shocking.

We are lucky and blessed to live in the Northeast and water, for the most part, has always been in plentiful supply. How times have changed!

Regards, David Donaldson, Jr.
FRWA Board President

FRWA to Receive $140,000 Clean Water Act Settlement

FRWA will receive a $140,000 Clean Water Act settlement from Glastonbury Company  Connecticut Galvanizing.  The company was found to be polluting Salmon and Hubbard Brooks with untreated stormwater containing heavy metals including zinc, copper and lead.  For more about the Company and the settlement read this article from NPR:

For Violating Clean Water Act, Glastonbury Company Forced to Pay Thousands

Canton Town Garage Comments

Many of our members in Canton have expressed concern over the possibility that the Canton Town Garage, long slated for removal from the edge of the Farmington River, may instead be re-built on its present site.  The question of re-locating the garage will be on a referendum this November.

FRWA has consistently encouraged re-building the garage at some new location away from the riverbank.   Some of our previous comments on this topic are provided below.

Op-Ed Comments from FRWA on the Referendum Concerning the Canton Town Garage,  10/7/16:

The argument for re-building the Canton town garage on a mound at its existing location goes something like this:  No other site is presently available, affordable, and acceptable; using the current site is the cheapest alternative, it’s technically feasible, and conforms to the letter (at least) of regulations about building on floodplains;  the garage staff should have a better facility; and not least, people are tired of this issue, and it could be resolved with a referendum vote in November.

But consider.  This idea still opposes the town’s own 2014-2024 Plan of Conservation and Development and the Upper Mill Pond Master Plan.  Both documents were generated in a well-regulated process of review, public comment, and approval.  Along the way, people had time to analyze, reflect, and decide what’s most desirable for the long term.  They clearly intended removal of the garage from the riverbank, for a variety of good reasons that have been articulated already by both town officials and citizens.  Finding a new location for the garage aligns with the town’s plans.  It does not come from some extreme or fringe-element agenda.

The Farmington River Watershed Association salutes Canton’s long-standing intent to promote the river’s health, scenic quality, economic value, and accessibility, as shown in its planning documents and many day-to-day actions.  The upcoming referendum will test Canton’s determination to follow through on the original, well-considered plan to re-locate the garage.  The vote will give Canton residents their opportunity to avoid a re-build on-site, and say instead, “Don’t give up!”  

Excerpts from a letter to the Canton Board of Finance, 8/15/16:

…We applaud the town’s long-running and diligent effort to find a way to get the town garage off the riverbank.  We also understand the town’s frustration, after several attempts to re-locate the garage have failed.  Under the circumstances, it’s tempting to choose a simple and relatively low-cost proposal that could be resolved soon in a referendum.   But we encourage a larger and longer-term perspective rather than just getting this done.   A protected, healthy river is not only a valuable natural resource, it’s a huge economic asset that should not be squandered.

Many town residents have already articulated strong arguments against keeping the garage at its present riverbank site, regardless of site design.   We agree that from a public safety point of view, it’s unwise to site a vital town facility where it’s subject to inaccessibility in conditions of high water or flood.  Also, we urge you to weigh the value of making Canton’s town waterfront a focal point for recreation, at the same time you weigh the relative costs of siting the garage in various places.  Public pressure to access the river is growing rapidly.  In the past few years, we have seen it expand to the point where state-owned access points and private property access points are becoming crowded.  Can this problem be turned into an opportunity for Canton?   Other towns along the river… are actively pursuing projects that will bring more people to the river’s edge—explicitly for purposes of economic development.

…  Converting the town garage site to a park-like water access point would solve the problem of keeping garage vehicles and chemicals next to the river… at the same time, it would enhance the town’s recreational amenities for both visitors and residents….  We strongly encourage the town to stand by its original enlightened objective of getting the town garage off the river altogether.

FRWA Annual Meeting & Forum, November 15, 5:30-7:30 pm

FRWA Annual Meeting & Forum
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM
Simsbury Free Library, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT

What a year!  Join us for a Forum with staff and guests to review and discuss river topics in our valley-including drought, state water supply planning, and FRWA’s projects.  Forum guests include:

Betsey Wingfield: Water Protection and Land Reuse Bureau Chief, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Margaret Miner: Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
David Radka: Director of Water Resources and Planning, The Connecticut Water Company
Virginia DeLima: Chair, Science and Technical Committee for Water Planning Council Steering Committee
John Hampton: State Representative and Author of Water Planning Bill

$15 per person—includes drinks and appetizers
Limited Seating— Please reserve by Nov.  11
Call or email Aimee at (860) 658-4442 ext ‘201’  apetras@frwa.organnualmeetinquilt

 

The Farmington River Quilt Project Viewing and Reception

A tour de force of fabric art— on display for a limited time!

Sunday, November 13, 2016, 3:00—5:00 PM
Squires Tavern, 100 River Road
Barkhamsted, CT

Enjoy this 50-foot-long portrait of the Farmington River’s Wild & Scenic West Branch. Two years in the making, it’s 25 stunning individual works by 24 quilters, some nationally renowned, led by Winchester quilter MaryPat Leger!

Meet quilters, enjoy refreshments, & tour the historic Squires Tavern.

Call or email Aimee at (860) 658-4442 ext ‘201’  apetras@frwa.org with any questions.

(No charge, donations welcome!)annualmeetinquilt

 

Invitation to Participate in Connecticut’s State Water Plan

Come share your voice in the early stages of developing Connecticut’s State Water Plan at any one of three public meetings in October.  The ongoing drought reminds us why responsible and collaborative stewardship of our water resources is so important.  The State Water Plan will provide the framework for managing Connecticut’s water into the future, and help balance the way it meets all of our needs as new climate trends emerge and new needs develop.  The Plan will address the quality and quantity of water for drinking, ecology, recreation, industry, agriculture, energy, and wastewater assimilation.  These public meetings will provide a forum to learn about the planning process, the goals of the plan, and future water management strategies that will be evaluated.  They will also provide the public with opportunities to engage in dialogue with state officials and project consultants, ask questions, and discuss issues.  The first set of meetings will be held on consecutive days in October 2016, in three different areas of the state.  The content of these first three meetings will be the same each day in order to spread awareness and encourage broad statewide engagement.  There will be three additional public meetings in the next phase of the project, during the winter and spring of 2017, sequenced in parallel with a progressive series of workshops with project stakeholders.

 The first three meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

 Tuesday, October 25:  6:00 – 8:00 PM Southeastern CT Council of Governments, 5 Connecticut Avenue, Norwich, CT.

Wednesday, October 26:  1:00 – 3:00 PM Hearing Room 1 at PURA, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT.

Thursday, October 27:  6:00 – 8:00 PM Room 205 of the Southbury Town Hall, 501 Main Street South, Southbury, CT.

Want a Greener Lawn? Natural Lawn Care Workshop – Oct 5

Want a Greener Lawn? Attend our Suffield Natural Lawn Care Workshop
October 5, 6-8 PM, Kent Memorial Library, Suffield, CT

Are you interested in learning new ways to keep your lawn and garden looking great naturally?  This workshop is for you!

Fall is the best time to focus on reseeding and aeration. We will dive in to these issue as well as go over common lawn weeds and what they indicate about your lawn conditions and soil nutrients. Bring any recent soil test results or get a head start on this class and get one submitted before the class begins at the UConn Soil testing lab.  Join Aimee Petras, Education & Outreach Coordinator in this fun and educational workshop that teaches you ways to get your lawn in shape without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  Attend this important workshop and learn tips for mowing, seeding, re-seeding, watering and ways to manage common weeds and pests that can complicate natural lawn care all year long. Program provided for FREE through Suffield Parks and Rec. Registration required. 

 

Climate Change & Local Sustainability Conference September 23, 9 AM – 3 PM

Join us for this important conference. Come see what local communities and organizations are doing to address major challenges.

This event is free. Registration is required. Please register by Monday, September 19, 2016. Call 860-361-9349, email: rivers@riversalliance.org, or visit www.riversalliance.org.

Light breakfast & lunch will be served.  Event flyer and agenda here!

Agenda:

  • Expert Science Forecasts for Climate Changes in Our Region.
  • Dealing with High and Low Water. Culvert Design for Floods and Fish Passage.
  • Keeping Stormwater Away from Our Rivers & Streams.
  • Reoccurring Drought & Low Stream Flows in a Local Basin.
  • Farms: Need for More Water Storage and Other Options.
  • Fish: Facing Thermal Woes and Low Flows. Can They Be Saved?
  • Who Can Help Connecticut Cope? Resources and Funding Available.

FRWA Aquatic Insect Sampling (RBV) Workshop

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 and help us identify our high quality waters.

FRWA Aquatic Insect Sampling (RBV) Workshop (Part 1, indoors)
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 , 7 to 9 PM
FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury

FRWA Aquatic Insect (RBV) Sampling (Part 2, outdoors, in-stream)
Saturday, October 1st 2016, 10 AM to noon
(We’ll let you know where to meet after you sign up.)

The indoor- portion of the workshop on Wednesday evening will provide an overview of the RBV (Rapid Biomonitoring for Volunteers) program, demonstrate collection and identification techniques and explain the use of aquatic organisms in water quality monitoring.  Following the indoor training, participants will be able to participate in the FRWA in-stream Aquatic Insect sampling to be held on Saturday October 1st and/or join up with other experienced samplers to monitor streams during the fall, throughout the Farmington River Watershed.

For the in-stream sampling, 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 identify high quality streams and monitor water quality changes in the Farmington River Watershed.

No previous experience necessary, new volunteers are paired with experienced team leaders for sampling and older children are welcome with an adult. Outdoor sampling will be held rain or shine; please dress for the weather and bring footwear to wade into the water (waders, water shoes or old sneakers). Space is limited, advance registration is required. Please contact FRWA at 860-658-4442 or email river@frwa to register.

(Experienced samplers please contact FRWA to borrow equipment and sample your favorite stream riffle and/or to sign up to be a team leader on the scheduled sampling day.)

FRWA Aquatic Insect Sampling (RBV) Workshop (Part 1, indoors)
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 , 7 to 9 PM
FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury

FRWA Aquatic Insect (RBV) Sampling (Part 2, outdoors, in-stream)
Saturday, October 1st 2016, 10 AM to noon
(We’ll let you know where to meet after you sign up.)

 

STREAM BUGS & POND CRITTERS September 25th, 10AM – Noon

Discover the fascinating underwater life of our watershed with FRWA Water Quality Monitoring as we explore Walton Pond and Poplar Swamp Brook at beautiful Winding Trails in Farmington. 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 creatures that inhabit still and flowing waters. Learn how and why we use aquatic insects in our watershed-wide water quality monitoring.

We will provide nets, buckets and expertise; you need only bring your curious mind. We meet at Nature’s Porch which is Winding Trails’ beautiful certified Connecticut grown building. We will go outdoors rain or shine. Please dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear to wade into shallow water (water shoes, old sneakers, or waders.) This program is open to all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required by 3 days prior to the event; please register through the Winding Trails website.

Date: Sunday, September 25th

Time: 10:00 am to noon

Ages: All ages

Where: Nature’s Porch, Winding Trails, 50 Winding Trails Drive, Farmington, CT

Fee: Free but must pre-register