Connecticut River Conservancy Testimony in SUPPORT (with modifications) of HB 5143 An Act Establishing an Office of Aquatic Invasive Species. 
February 24th, 2022 

To: Honored Co-Chairs, Sen. Cohen and Rep. Gresko, and distinguished Members of the Environment Committee  

I am writing on behalf of the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC); we are an environmental nonprofit dedicated to protecting the entire Connecticut River valley through initiatives that support clean waters, healthy habitats and thriving communities. I am writing in support of HB 5143 which will provide infrastructure critical to the health of the Connecticut River as well as the animals, people and businesses that depend on the river to survive.  

Aquatic Invasive Species decimate native habitat, disrupt businesses on the riverfront and lead to decline in property values.  

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are non-native plants and animals that have been introduced to the region with severe and damaging results. In the case of both hydrilla (hydrilla verticillata) and water chestnut (trapa natans), which are two invasive plants abundant in the Connecticut River watershed, these plants can outcompete native plants and, as a result, replace habitat for sensitive wildlife, including migratory fish. In recent years, hydrilla in particular has crowded out boaters, anglers and those who come to recreate on the Connecticut River. Marinas and municipalities report they can no longer access boat slips and docks due to the severity of the hydrilla infestations, limiting business opportunity. While CRC and other stakeholders have worked to stop the spread of hydrilla through pilot projects and educational efforts, there is a clear need for support and coordination of these efforts across the state. An Office of Aquatic Invasive Species would provide guidance and direction on handling invasive species to businesses, municipalities and organizations, including help on identifying state and federal funding.  

A centralized effort is critical to support reliable data collection, coordinate research efforts and to reduce the spread of AIS through education; this approach will reduce overall costs in the long run.  

Throughout the 2019-2022 season, the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station recorded nearly 800 acres of hydrilla in the Connecticut River and its tributaries.1 In the years since hydrilla was first discovered in the Connecticut River system, infestations have overwhelmed coves and tributaries along the river, making these areas completely inaccessible. Hydrilla propagates through fragmentation, meaning that when it breaks apart, fragments of the plant be transported downstream or by a watercraft, creating another mat of hydrilla at a new location. When boaters move from waterbody to waterbody, hydrilla fragments can remain in or on the vessel and be introduced to new waters, incurring unanticipated costs for businesses and towns. 

The costs associated with managing the infestation of hydrilla in the Connecticut River are now estimated to be at least $25 million, while educational efforts to prevent hydrilla’s spread represent only a fraction of the treatment costs, validating the adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. For this reason, it is critical that the current bill language be modified to reflect this need through the following changes: 

  1. An increase of funding for DEEP’s aquatic invasive washing stations infrastructure, including signage at all boat launches 
  1. Funding for a public education program explaining the DEEP’s “Clean, Drain & Dry” program; and  
  1. The establishment of a “Save Our River” license plate to support these education efforts. 

While the AIS sticker fee program has been a good first step in combating invasive species in Connecticut’s water bodies, there is a need for greater investment in preventing the spread of emergent invasive plants, such as hydrilla, to waterbodies that have not yet been infested.  

I urge you to modify HB5143 to reflect the changes stated above and to support this legislation to sustain healthy ecosystems, as well as thriving businesses and communities across the state.  

Thank you for your consideration. I may be reached at or 860-704-0057. 



Kelsey Wentling (she/her/hers)
River Steward 



Connecticut River Conservancy Testimony in SUPPORT of HB 5139 An Act Concerning Extended Producer Responsibility for Tires 

To: Honored Co-Chairs, Sen. Cohen and Rep. Gresko, and distinguished Members of the Environment Committee  

I am writing on behalf of the Connecticut River Conservancy; we are an environmental nonprofit dedicated to protecting the entire Connecticut River valley through initiatives that support clean waters, healthy habitats and thriving communities. I am writing in support of HB 5139 and to urge this committee to adopt an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for tires, which will not only protect our environment from toxic pollutants but will also reduce burdensome costs for municipalities and taxpayers. We do not support a tire hauler license program and a study on tire end use has already been completed, which resulted in the recommendation of a tire EPR model for Connecticut. 

The tire crisis is twofold: illegal tire dumping plagues our public lands, and the primary scrap tire end use, burning tires for fuel, is not sustainable.  

Connecticut drivers produce roughly 3.5 million scrap tires per year1 and each year, volunteers in our Source to Sea cleanup take to their rivers to remove many of these illegally dumped tires; to-date, volunteer have retrieved over 13,900 tires from the Connecticut River Watershed. In recent years, volunteers have pulled hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of tires out of river during this event, signaling an ongoing problem with the management of scrap tires. While commendable progress has been made to reduce illegal tire stockpiling, this should not be conflated with illegal tire dumping; to assert that illegal tire dumping is no longer an issue, is to deny the reality of volunteers and public servants doing the work on the ground.  

Scrap tires have profound costs for the environment. Tires dumped onto our public lands and into our waterways leach toxic materials into soil and water; they create fire hazards and attract vermin and mosquitoes, which pose human health threats. In a 2020 study2 of the cause of acute mortality of adult coho salmon, scientists identified tire-derived chemicals as the sole cause of mortality. For tires that do make their way through the disposal system, most of these will be trucked to Maine to be burned as tire derived fuel (TDF) at cement kilns or pulp mills. While proponents of this system tout TDF as “recycling,” such a claim is misleading and disingenuous.  

Right now, municipalities and state agencies must pay the disposal costs of illegally dumped tires, an unjust burden to towns and taxpayers. 

Not only is our environment bearing the costs of the scrap tire crisis, but these costs are also forced on taxpayers via municipalities and state agencies that must pay for the retrieval and disposal of illegally dumped tires. In surveys of municipalities in the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM) group, municipalities responded that: 

  • Tires are the number one item for which municipalities want to establish EPR. 
  • 83% of participants supported EPR for tires, while 15% said they needed more information or were not sure.3  
  • In 2014, the state of Connecticut paid $16,000 for illegal tire dumping in just six months4, while in cities such as New Haven, officials received alerts of over 70 instances of illegal tire dumping, also in just six months and mostly along waterways and ravines.5 
  • The City of Bridgeport’s annual operating budget for 2020-2021 reads, “Illegal tire dumping is a particularly expensive issue for Public Facilities, with volumes of tires that must be generated by commercial operations…”6 

EPR will eliminate illegal tire dumping and undue costs for municipalities; a state-run or manifest program will not.  

EPR speaks to the elephant in the room – producers must accept responsibility for the costs their products incur on the environmental and the people of Connecticut. Those with the only say in how a product is made should also be responsible for how it is discarded.  

EPR will relieve volunteers and municipalities of the exhaustive costs of tire disposal by internalizing existing, external costs – costs that are simply not accounted for in the sale price of the product. Already, EPR programs have proven successful in Connecticut. Since 2011, the electronics EPR model has recycled over 137 million pounds of unwanted electronics, created 86 new recycling jobs and saved over $6 million dollars for municipalities.7 

State-run or manifest programs do not address this issue of external costs and do nothing to curb illegal tire dumping. These are costly programs that come at the expense of taxpayers and, in states with tire disposal programs, illegal tire dumping persists with the same environmental and economic injustices of the current system.7 A state-run program would create far fewer jobs and, as seen in existing state-run programs, does not establish incentives to recycle tires nor does it effectively enforce compliance with hauler licensing.8 Again, we write in support of HB5139 to protect the health of our environment and eliminate unfair costs for municipalities across Connecticut.  

Thank you for your consideration. I may be reached at or 860-704-0057. 


Kelsey Wentling (she/her/hers)
River Steward