Officials and residents protest water supply proposal
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 22:01
Residents and stakeholders gathered at a public hearing in Farmington last night to express their concern about a proposal made in University of Connecticut’s water supply plan.
The Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE), a joint study conducted by UConn and the town of Mansfield to evaluate how the Mansfield area will meet its future water demands, proposes three different viable ways to meet projected increased demands on water over the next 50 years. One alternative is to expand pipelines from Mansfield to connect with the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) in East Hartford, which draw from the Farmington River Basin.
State and municipal officials, as well as more than forty residents of the Farmington River Basin area, gathered to protest the MDC proposal. Concern for local aquatic wildlife and drinking water availability for the Farmington area were resounding themes of the opposition.
State Representative John Hampton of Simsbury said the area considers the River a “previous resource” and diverting water resources would “go against Connecticut’s long held and wise policy of not doing inter-basin transfers.”
Hampton said he plans to propose legislation that would put a “statewide moratorium on for water expansion.”
Municipal leaders from various towns along the Farmington river Basin delivered a joint letter expressing their concerns. “We think there’s cheaper and better alternatives. Long-term solution should be looked at before a 20 mile pipe is installed.”
State Senator Kevin Witkos of the 8th district said drawing additional water from the Farmington River posed an environmental threat that was “simply unacceptable.”
“This is frustrating and quite frankly shows a lack of respect,” Witkos said. “No plan should be considered until the environmental and economic impact for all communities is considered,” Witkos said.
The MDC proposal would require the farthest expansion of underground pipelines, but is one of only two other alternative the firm Milone & MacBroom, the consulting firm that proposed the EIE, determined able to deliver the additional 1.3 million gallons per day deemed necessary to sustain the Mansfield area.
Mansfield’s Town Manager, Matt Hart, spoke to assure attendees of the public hearing that the MDC proposal was only one of three viable alternatives.
“The EIE has identified three options to consider…all the options are viable. The town of Mansfield respects the importance of MDC as well as any other water source that could potentially be impacted,” Hart said.
Hart also said more thorough studies regarding legality, cost and scheduling of the expansions before a plan is made.
Other alternatives suggested in the EIE include connecting water pipelines with Connecticut Water Co. in Tolland, Windham Water Works in southern Mansfield or Metropolitan District Commission in East Hartford.
The public comment period for the EIE and proposed water supply expansion ends Jan. 31. Comments should be sent to Jason Coite (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Environmental Compliance Analyst at the University of Connecticut.