Natural Lawn Care Workshop at Winding Trails – April 27, 2019

FRWA and Winding Trails are teaming up for this timely workshop. Aimee Petras, the Education & Outreach Coordinator at FRWA, will present this program that covers how to manage your lawn without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We will outline the steps you need to take including getting a soil test through mowing techniques to managing weeds.  Additionally, we’ll delve into common lawn problems such as grubs and thatch.

Registration required at the Winding Trails website:

Saville Dam Tour – October 20, 2018, 10am-3pm

Trace history in your watershed!

Saville Dam and Old Barkhamsted Hollow Bus tour and short hike
Saturday, October 20th, 2018
10 AM – 3 PM
Cost: $20 per FRWA member; $25 Non-member (prepayment guarantees space)

*NOTE: This tour is full.  We are currently adding names to a waiting list.

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. We complete our tour with a visit to the relocated and renovated old Barkhamsted Center schoolhouse. The history and preservation of our watershed is interwoven with the story of the Metropolitan District and the pursuit of clean drinking water for Greater Hartford.

Photo Credit: Tom Cameron

The operator of the Saville Dam will guide us through the earthen embankment impoundment that backs up the 30 billion gallons Barkhamsted reservoir providing drinking water for Greater Hartford. After touring the dam, we venture onto the reservoir lands where the MDC forester will explain how the MDC manages forest diversity for water quality.

Then Barkhamsted Historian, Erik Landgraf will tour 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. Mr. Landgraf will bring the old town roaring back to life as he regales us with vignettes of life in the village, as past and present eerily meet. Then it’s hands on in the old Barkhamsted Center schoolhouse; we’ll see what you remember from your school days.

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 and pack a lunch and water.

Jamie McEwan 2018 Whitewater Triple Crown – July 13, 14, 15

After two years of drought and low water, we arePicture hosting the Triple Crown again!

Since July has such variability with water levels here, we need to keep some flexibility in our format. This year we aim to hold each event (slalom, downriver, and freestyle) only once. This will help decompress the busy schedule and should make everything more fun for everyone.

Friday, July 13: Set-up, registration and practice
Saturday, July 14: Slalom and “Free Ride”
Sunday, July 15: Downriver and Freestyle

“Free Ride Revolution” – ​Saturday Afternoon

River running and playing our way down the river is the essence of whitewater paddling. This year we are adding an “Experimental” event-  a Free Ride race that combines running the river, negotiating slalom gates and throwing in freestyle tricks all in one race.

Friday, July 13: Registration opens at 3PM
Saturday July 14: Registration at 9AM, on the water about 10 AM-4PM
Sunday July 15: On the water about 10 AM-3PM


FRWA Executive Director Search – Apply Today

FRWA is looking for our new Executive Director. This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks’ Executive Transitions Program with Transition Consultant John Tarvin. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential. Interested candidates should submit materials to:

Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience match FRWA’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.
FRWA is an equal opportunity employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates.

To learn more about the position and how to apply, download the PDF at the link below.

FRWA ED 2018 Position Description

River Stewards (Summer Staff) 2018

The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) is accepting applications for River Stewards for summer 2018.  River Stewards will work in the field, laboratory, and office on several projects, including weekly water quality sampling and analysis; assessments of aquatic animal passage at road-stream crossings as weather permits; outreach (live and online) to promote safe and responsible river recreation; and assisting with FRWA’s “River Smart” outreach activities.

Background.  The Farmington River is one of the most popular recreational rivers in Connecticut, with world-class trout fishing and whitewater paddling reaches, plus flatwater stretches and riverside trails.  It has small scale hydropower, and provides drinking water for over 450,000 people in greater Hartford.  Though intensively managed, it still faces challenges to its water quality and aquatic life.

FRWA is the private, non-profit organization, founded in 1953, that is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Farmington River and its watershed.  (see  Seasonal positions at FRWA provide broad experience in watershed management, monitoring, planning, and public education, and balancing the many demands made on this natural resource.

Overview:  River Steward seasonal staff are based in FRWA’s office in Simsbury, CT.  They have responsibilities typical for entry-level professional positions in watershed associations.  Their work entails travel throughout watershed towns as needed.  Seasonal staff are expected to work up to 24 hours per week, depending on need and weather, for up to 11 weeks from late May or early June through early to mid-August.   Most work is during regular weekday hours but early morning, evening, or weekend hours are sometimes required.   Indoor work is expected to be done in the FRWA office, to allow interaction with team members.

Seasonal staff will participate in:

Water quality monitoring.  FRWA provides water quality data to the CT DEEP as part of state compliance with the Clean Water Act;  data collection and analysis is therefore held to a high standard.   Monitoring is ongoing throughout the season and requires at least one seasonal staff every Monday and Tuesday.   It includes training; collecting water samples from the field; laboratory preparation and analysis of samples for bacteria, data quality assurance and entry.  Other tasks may include placing temperature data loggers, choosing additional sampling sites, and field collection of benthic macroinvertebrates.

Stream crossing assessments.   Seasonal staff will work with FRWA staff to evaluate road-stream crossings (culverts and bridges) in the lower Farmington River for their ability to allow passage of aquatic animals.  The process also identifies crossings vulnerable to failure in extreme storm events.  We use the protocol of the North Atlantic Aquatic Continuity Collaborative (NAACC), used by other agencies and organizations throughout the Northeast.   Data are uploaded to a regional database for viewing and analysis.  Seasonal staff undergo mandatory training and testing in the protocol; obtain and record data at field sites; and assist with reviewing and uploading data.  Note, this work is highly dependent on appropriate stream flow conditions.  Drought will significantly reduce the hours available.

Public education and outreach.  This may entail face-to-face interaction with recreational users to encourage safe practices and good river etiquette, maintaining a lively online presence for FRWA on our website and in social media, and participating in programs, events, and field trips for youth and the general public.

Qualifications.  The ideal candidate is an advanced undergraduate or recent graduate, highly motivated to pursue environmental management, restoration, or advocacy as a profession.  Coursework in environmental science and experience in field work and data collection are strongly preferred.   A can-do attitude, imagination, interest in learning, flexible response to circumstances, “people skills,” and good humor are important.

Job Requirements.  Seasonal staff are expected to:

  • Work well on a team or independently, and be at ease with a variety of people;
  • Have excellent written, verbal, and online communication skills;
  • Represent FRWA in a friendly and professional manner;
  • Have their own reliable transportation at all times;
  • Commit and adjust to weekly hours that vary with weather and task;
  • Climb up and down steep banks and wade in rocky streams;
  • Paddle a canoe or kayak in flatwater or mild current (Class 1-2);
  • Work outdoors and cope with poison ivy, thorns, ticks, insects, and wildlife;
  • Have experience in safe guidance of youngsters in an outdoor setting;
  • Be diligent about details when analyzing, recording, and uploading data;
  • Be familiar with (or quickly learn) basics of GIS software, Google Maps, and use of GPS units;
  • Be good organizers and take responsibility for the success of an event or activity;
  • Be communicative and accountable, with “deliverables” that are complete and timely.

Compensation.  To be determined, based upon available funding.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, two professional references, and two writing samples to:

Aimee Petras, FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT  06070  or

Deadline.   Submission before May 15 is highly recommended.   Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.

The Planet, Our Forests, and Championship Trees – Thursday, April 26, 2018, 6:00pm

The Town of Simsbury, the Simsbury Land Trust, the Canton Land Conservation Trust and the Farmington River Watershed Association cordially invite you to attend: “The Planet, Our Forests, and Championship Trees“. This regional forum will be held in the Program Room at the Simsbury Library, 725 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury CT and led by Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of Connecticut Forest and Parks Association.

Forum participants are:

  • Dr. William Moomaw, Professor Emeritus of International Environmental Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University and Founding Director, Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. Dr. Moomaw was the lead author of five (5) reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize for its climate work in 2007. Dr. Moomaw will present data on the dynamic relationship between forests and the earth’s climate with a focus on the forests of North America and New England.
  • Robert Leverett, a recognized expert on old growth forests and large trees. Recently Mr. Leverett re-measured the Pinchot Sycamore and has submitted it for consideration as a National Champion. Mr. Leverett’s stunning photos will showcase our Pinchot Sycamore and some of the amazing trees and old growth forests in the region.

Check-in and a light supper will be available starting at 6:00 PM to provide time for socializing. Groups are invited to bring maps, handouts and event information. The formal program will begin at 7:00 PM.

This regional forum is a follow up to our last forum held in April 2017, “The Future of Our Forests: Stewarding Our Lands Thoughtfully” that featured Dr. Ed Faison, Senior Ecologist from Highstead, a regional organization in Redding, CT dedicated to forest research and long term monitoring. Dr. Faison’s presentation is available on the Simsbury Town Website, and can be found clicking this link.

Questions and RSVP’s (by Friday April 20th) to Helen Peterson

Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Granby Library – April 5, 2018, 6:30-7:30pm

Learn best practices for maintaining and improving your lawn while protecting nearby streams and waterways. Join Aimee Petras, Farmington River Watershed Association, as she covers timely lawn care topics, including soil testing, irrigation, aeration, reseeding, and mowing.

Location: Granby Public Library, 15 North Granby Rd., GranbyCT 06035
Registration recommended; call 860.844.5275 or email today!

River Friendly Lawn Care: Bloomfield Library March 1, 6:00 – 7:45pm

River Friendly Lawn Care

Over 600,000 people in the Greater Hartford area and Farmington Valley receive their water from the Farmington River each year. Protecting water quality in the Farmington River is in the region’s best interest and it starts in your backyard.

Did you know that how we care for our lawns can impact the health of our waterways? Join Aimee Petras, from the Farmington River Watershed Association, who will outline 6 simple things you can do to improve the health of your lawn and help protect the drinking water and ecological diversity provided by the Farmington River.

FREE! Register here:

Congrats and Farewell

FRWA’s Executive Director, Eileen Fielding, will be leaving FRWA in late January to take on a new position with the National Audubon Society.  Since her arrival as Executive Director in 2008, FRWA has had a lead role in such partnership projects as the Lower Farmington Wild and Scenic River Management Plan, the update of the West Branch Wild and Scenic Management Plan, and the removal of Spoonville Dam in East Granby and Bloomfield.  FRWA has also maintained and expanded its data collection for the Farmington River Water Quality Project, and completed many projects that restore habitat or reduce stormwater runoff in the watershed.   Following the controversy in 2012-13 over the MDC’s proposed expansion to supply UConn with drinking water, she has represented FRWA as an active participant in the development of the new CT State Water Plan.  The last nine years have also seen new education initiatives such as FRWA’s paid internships and River Smart outreach program.  In her tenure, FRWA has also attracted significant support from community members, foundations, and government agencies.

A search for FRWA’s next Executive Director will be underway shortly.  We thank Eileen for her years of leadership, and wish her every success in her new venture!

Comments from the FRWA on the Draft State Water Plan

Below are FRWA’s comments on the Draft State Water Plan.  For more information on the Draft State Water Plan and how to submit your own comments, please visit the Rivers Alliance of CT’s website by clicking here:

Comments from the Farmington River Watershed Association on the Draft State Water Plan

The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) has a special interest in the outcome of the state water planning process.  It was public outcry in 2012 over the possible sale of water from the Farmington River Watershed (specifically the Metropolitan District Commission’s Barkhamsted Reservoir) to the University of Connecticut in Storrs that provided the political pressure to finalize a state water plan after years of hiatus.  Farmington Valley residents were surprised that MDC could propose a sale to such a distant customer, and objected to what seemed to be an ad hoc approach to solving UConn’s water supply problem.  They realized that without a state water plan, there was a lack of readily available information about water resources statewide, and a lack of guidance as to whether any proposed water sale made sense for the state as a whole, or for water as a public trust.

FRWA participated as a stakeholder in the preparation of the Draft State Water Plan, serving on the Water Planning Council Advisory Group’s Science and Technical Committee, attending meetings of the Water Planning Council and the Water Utility Coordinating Committees, and participating in workshops hosted by the consulting firms CDM Smith and Milone and MacBroom.  As a river advocacy organization, FRWA looked for a planning process that would

  1. clarify the state of Connecticut’s water resources;
  2. set forth the needs and the options for balancing in-stream water requirements with human water consumption demands;
  3. propose fair mechanisms for deciding how water could be extracted, sold, and moved by water utilities vs. allocated for other essential purposes;
  4. fully recognize the value of maintaining aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, streams, and wetlands, since these are not only valuable in themselves, but also tied closely to human well-being;
  5. be transparent and have mechanisms for input from a broad range of stakeholders and the general public.

In reality, the Draft State Water Plan does not, and cannot, fully address these concerns, but it does make some progress in the right direction.  The following comments expand on that remark.

  1. Clarifying the status of CT water resources. Overall, given its tight timeline and its budget constraints, the Draft State Water Plan is an impressive compilation and presentation of information, and a useful framework for next steps.  The Water Planning Council, the supporting Committees, and the consulting firms are to be thanked and congratulated on reaching this point.

Even though this summary of Connecticut’s water resources is perhaps the most broad and comprehensive to date, the water data in its basin summary sheets should be interpreted with care.  For some estimates on those sheets, the margin of error was necessarily large.  Also, figures for water availability that represent averages over time can mask the severity of short-term fluctuations in available water.  Lack of information about registered diversions introduces uncertainty.  For example, the basin summaries show the natural flow of a river, and how much of that flow is usually in the channel or diverted for human use.  But in many basin summaries, the number of registered diversions on a river exceeds the total flow of the river.  The obvious conclusion is that the registered diversions are not all in use, or there would be far more dry riverbeds than at present.  But which registrations are in use?  Which are obsolete?  Which might be re-activated and cause a problem later on?  Added to that, how might climate change amplify future flow variation? Those questions need answers in order to craft a reasonable plan for any given river.

Another cautionary note relates to the geographic scale of the basin summaries.  In the Farmington River basin, there is often a disparity between flow in small tributaries and flow in the mainstem, especially since the latter is artificially maintained by releases from impoundments.  We might be lulled by the fact that the basin as a whole looks robust.  But to evaluate possible impacts of our actions on smaller streams within the watershed we should check more localized data, and do location-specific modeling.  This warning applies to other river basins as well.

The draft plan and its executive summary already contain these caveats.  We repeat them here to emphasize that the Draft State Water Plan is the starting point for much more work.

  1. Needs, and options, for balancing in-stream water requirements with human consumption demands.

The draft plan repeatedly states the intent to balance in-stream water needs with human consumptive needs.  However, we agree with comments by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut and others, that “balance” needs clearer definition.  One obstacle to defining balance is that there’s a wealth of quantitative data about how to meet human consumptive needs for water, and a large number of people who are familiar with that information; but biological needs for water in aquatic habitats, and the value of meeting those needs, are less well documented and understood by fewer people.  Lack of knowledge is easily interpreted as lack of importance; despite intent to be even-handed, the better documented side carries more emphasis.   That said, the basin summary sheets do graphically present ecological use and human consumptive use side by side for each of the 44 sub-basins studied.  This is a step in the right direction.  Going forward, our understanding of “balance” should be finer-tuned as more information emerges about the ecosystem services and economic values of our streams and rivers.

The available options for balancing in-stream requirements with water supply demands are presented in the draft plan as information only, without expressed preference, which is a necessary first step.  How we decide to choose among options is deferred to some later stage.

  1. Fair mechanisms for deciding how water can be extracted, sold, and moved by water utilities vs. allocated for other essential purposes.

It’s fair to say that this issue generated the political impetus in 2012-13 for developing a State Water Plan (and for organizing the Water Utility Coordinating Committees). But in actuality, it covers a broader area of concerns, and involves more regulations, plans, and policies, than this State Water Plan can encompass.  The draft plan provides no formulas or criteria for allocating water to this or that purpose.  Rather than prescribing a resolution for the conflict that spurred the legislature to authorize this State Water Plan in the first place, the draft plan organizes information and options that will be relevant to resolution later on.  Again, it’s a platform for future decisions rather than a set of decisions in itself.

  1. Fully recognizing the value of maintaining aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, streams, and wetlands.

This point was discussed above, but two more points can be added that we recommend as additions to the draft plan.  The value of aquatic ecosystems would be better recognized if:

  1. An estimated dollar value was put on their “ecosystem services” such as water filtration, pollution detoxification, the transport and cycling of nutrients, etc., as well as other public goods such as recreation, wastewater reception, etc.; and
  2. The water plan explicitly points out that it should not be legal to pump a river dry. Right now, a waterway can be legally pumped dry if it is over-allocated to registered diversions; or due to the fact that groundwater pumping is not currently included in state streamflow regulations.
  3. Transparent process with mechanisms for input from a broad range of stakeholders and the general public.

The development of the draft state water plan was an open public process, and inclusive of many stakeholders.  There was one glaring lack of transparency, however, arising from the exemption of water supply plans from Freedom of Information requests.  Despite the best efforts of advocacy groups and the Department of Public Health, this problem was never satisfactorily resolved.  It is still virtually impossible for a citizen of Connecticut to obtain a water utility’s water supply plan without unreasonable delay (if it can be obtained at all) and without a degree of redaction that goes well beyond what’s necessary for security purposes.

Fortunately, the consultants who prepared the Draft Water Plan were granted access to the information, so we can be reasonably sure that the aggregated data are credible.  But going forward, more people must have access to more information, if stakeholders and citizens are to have any meaningful role in all the policy decisions that still lie ahead.   On this point, and on many others, we concur with the comments provided by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

As emphasized repeatedly in the Draft State Water Plan itself, the document is a starting point.  It identifies gaps in scientific knowledge, procedures that need to be established but are as yet undeveloped, and unresolved policy decisions that remain to be addressed.