For Immediate Release
MIDDLETOWN, CT—JUNE 12, 2013. The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) has been working with the City of Middletown, Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders since the fall of 2011 on a restoration project in the area of the John S. Roth Memorial Well Field in order to protect Middletown drinking water and the Connecticut River. The City of Middletown has wanted to accomplish this project for some time, as gradual erosion since the 1980’s has threatened the required 50 foot setback that protects the well field that currently provides approximately 70 percent of the drinking water for the City of Middletown. The project has now been submitted in application for a 401 Water Quality Certificate, and a public comment period will soon follow.
CRWC is concerned that this project is still overdesigned, unnecessarily proposing to remove large standing trees along a significant length of river. The current plan describes that 99 trees will be cut down, and only 55 will be replaced. “That’s not a river friendly solution.” Trees help stabilize a bank, minimize erosion and provide necessary shade habitat for diverse fish species. Mature vegetation should be removed only when absolutely necessary, such as the inability to safely access construction areas when working near the river. The Watershed Council applauds the City for proactively protecting its drinking water supply and for previously demonstrating receptivity to stakeholder comments, as the proposed design has already improved through a collaborative process. “We think this project could be a model for other parts of the watershed,” encourages Jacqueline Talbot, CT River Steward for the Watershed Council. “We have high hopes for it.”
The Council is requesting a meeting with CT DEEP and stakeholders in order to field outstanding concerns and finalize a design that’s good for the city and the river. “We would like to see a project that both protects the drinking water wells and maintains and promotes significant riparian habitat. We hope to see the use of site-specific selective treatment, bioengineered solutions, minimal fish habitat impact with mitigation measures for any adverse impacts and the preservation of as much vegetation as possible, especially mature vegetation. The right project will be effective, protective of important riparian habitat, aesthetically pleasing and a model for others seeking to stabilize their banks on a large river.”
“Middletown has a close relationship with the Connecticut River and is investing a good deal in this project, as well as considering development of the nearby riverfront,” said Talbot. “Doing this project right will mean a worthy investment of their resources and a project of which this river community can be proud.” The Watershed Council looks forward to working with DEEP and all stakeholders in order to achieve a great project.
Photo: 2011 photograph of a bank stabilization project built in early 1990’s, just upstream from the current project at the John S. Roth Memorial Well Field, Middletown. The original design for the current project included articulated concrete blocks, such as those pictured, but through a collaborative process, a more river-friendly design is being considered.
Photo: J. Talbot
About the Watershed Council
The Watershed Council has worked for over 60 years with diverse partners to achieve the best projects and practices for the river’s continued restoration. Our work informs our vision of both ecological and economic abundance.