Advocate

Current Environmental Topics in Fairfield

Aquarion Southwest Regional Pipeline Diversion Permit Application 

MRWC partnered with other advocacy groups to publicize concerns about a permit filed just as many of us were reeling from the shutdown of schools and businesses across the state due to the pandemic.  In mid-March 2020, Aquarion Water Company (AWC) submitted an application to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) seeking approval to transfer up to 14.2 million gallons of water per day for 25 years from its Greater Bridgeport System to lower Fairfield County, doubling the amount sent  through their Southwest Regional Pipeline (SWRP).  The primary source of supply would be the Hemlocks Reservoir System, including the Hemlocks Reservoir which flows into Cricker Brook, an important tributary to the Mill River. In a different but related permit, Housatonic well fields will be re-opened and this water will be pumped to the Hemlocks Reservoir System to ensure enough water is available for this project.  These well fields have not been in use because they have an unacceptably high level of manganese and MRWC has asked (a) how AWC will clean the manganese out of the water supply and (b) to include the level of manganese in the water quality reports whenever this water is included in our water supply.

Alongside Fairfielders Protecting for Land and Neighborhoods (FairPLAN), Rivers Alliance, Southwest Conservation District, Save the Sound and their Soundkeeper, Bill Lucey, and Lake Hills Association (LHA), MRWC has been a lead voice for concerned citizens during the CT DEEP application review process.  We have participated in public meetings, pushing for answers regarding the need for this substantial increase for such a long duration as well as the application’s impact upon water quality, the environment, water usage, and conservation as well as the cost to the rate payers.

In January 2021, CT DEEP issued a tentative determination of approval to Aquarion’s permit application. Since then, the Town of Fairfield Conservation Department and LHA filed for a public hearing and the Town of Fairfield Conservation Department has filed an intervention request and has been granted Intervenor status.  

In March 2021, MRWC - as an organization with an interest in the outcome of these proceedings, and also in support of the Town’s filing - along with LHA, and FairPLAN, filed for intervenor status.  As an intervenor, MRWC will be actively involved in this permit request proceedings and will be able to present evidence and ask questions and, if necessary, file for an appeal. 

Upcoming dates to be noted on this matter are listed below :

  • Public comments on this application are permitted until 5/15/21. To submit a comment, email the CT DEEP Hearing Officer Janice.deshais@ct.gov referencing Aquarion Application 202004971-DIVC in the subject.

Additional Resources can be found here:

  • Recording of 5/4 hearing proceedings and public comment (with the integrated audio transcript) can be viewed here  Passcode: 7?E7FMwd
  • Recording of 5/6 evidentiary hearing proceedings (with the integrated audio transcript) can be viewed here Passcode: m0aJR*1Z
  • On 4/8/21, State Senator Tony Hwang hosted a Facebook Forum about the diversion which can be viewed here
  • A copy of Aquarion’s application to double the amount of water it diverts from the Greater Bridgeport Area to lower Fairfield County can be viewed here
  • On 1/6/21 CT DEEP held a public information meeting regarding their tentative determination hearing. The presentation from that meeting can be viewed here
  • The 8/26/20 public meeting was recorded and can be viewed here  Passcode: khW7$wr=

Members of MRWC's Board, Kate O’Mahony (1:05:17), Mike Widmer (1:08:41), and Mary Hogue (1:10:45), each had specific questions for DEEP and Aquarion and pushed to better understand the need for this application and any adverse effects on the environment. 

  • A summary of the questions raised at the 8/26/20 public meeting and Aquarion's responses can be viewed here

Town of Fairfield and AWC agreement documents relating to streamflow release from 2007 can be viewed below:

Philosophy

MRWC believes that the most powerful protection for our environment comes through education. However, there are times when more direct action is needed. In 1966 Joy Shaw stood in front of a bulldozer to protect the Mill River watershed. She used education about the environmental impact to have the situation remedied.  To this day, MRWC seeks to offer education about the importance of the environment and to advocate for the interests of the watershed and the greater community it supports.

Our advocacy is based on the principle of mutual cooperation, rather than opposition or antagonism. When the health of the local watershed is impacted, we work with environmental and business experts to identify  acceptable solutions.

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In addition to our educational programs, MRWC works to promote the visibility of our local watersheds and related environmental concerns.

The best way to help us continue our advocacy work is to become a member of the MRWC, so you can stay up-to-date on all the latest developments. Or you could consider making a one-time gift.

Fairfield Conservation-Related Meetings