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 SB 1037, SB 928 and SB 1031 with some suggested changes.
SUPPORT SB 1037 An Act Concerning Solid Waste Management.
In 24 years of cleaning the Connecticut River watershed during the Source to Sea Cleanup, volunteers consistently collect more beverage containers than any other single item. Below is chart of the top 10 trash items we found in our rivers last year. Topping the list are beverage containers (plastic and glass bottles), items that have held this dishonorable distinction for years. In 2020, CRC volunteers covered 43 miles and picked up 3,174 beverage bottles, averaging just about 74 bottles littered per mile.
Plastic bottles and beverage containers are far and away the most common items we find polluting our waterways, and it’s not just the Connecticut River — the Ocean Conservancy classifies plastic bottles as one of the top ten items most commonly found littering Connecticut trash cleanups. In 2020, the Ocean Conservancy tallied nearly 10,000 beverage containers overall in Connecticut. Pollution from beverage containers threatens the health of aquatic species, aids in the proliferation and transportation of invasive species and significantly reduces the aesthetic of, and therefore, attraction to and use of the river, a major economic and environmental resource.
A critical component of this bill is the inclusion of liquor and wine bottles as well as nips. In 2019 over one-fifth of all bottles collected were nips. The bottle bill will introduce incentives to return liquor bottles and nips rather than leaving them to pollute our waterways.
Finally, a 2018 study found that, “The proportion of containers found in coastal debris surveys in states with [container deposit laws] was approximately 40% lower than in states without [container deposit laws].”3 The bottle bill will reduce litter in our state. Because of the environmental benefits associated with expanding the bottle bill, CRC strongly supports SB 1037 to:
• Increase the deposit on covered containers from 5 to 10 cents,
• Raise the handling fee on covered containers to 3.5 cents across the board,
• Expand the program to cover non-carbonated beverages incl. juices, teas, sports drinks, kombucha, hard cider and nips,
• Bring wine and liquor into the program,
• Require chain stores with more than 40K sq ft of retail space to provide RVMs for convenient redemption access.
SB 1037 is a much-needed step in reducing pollution in the river by providing incentive to return beverage containers and returning them to the recycling stream.
SUPPORT SB 928 An Act Concerning Recycled Content for Products Sold in Connecticut
As New England’s waste and recycling systems become increasingly overwhelmed at the expense of taxpayers in the region4, increasing recycling content in beverage containers removes some of this burden from municipalities. S.B. 928 recognizes the need to address this issue across state lines at the regional scale. We support this effort to establish a consistent minimum recycled content in New England; however, this bill could do more to promote minimum recycled content. In 2020, we submitted testimony in support of SB 296 An Act Concerning a Minimum Recycled Glass Content for Wine and Liquor Bottles Sold or Distributed in the Northeast Region. This bill had greater emphasis on convening representatives from New England states to create a minimum recycled glass content for wine and liquor bottles within a year and to report on legislative proposals. We suggest revising the language to reflect the goals and action items from the 2020 draft bill.
SUPPORT SB 1031 An Act Concerning the use of Sodium Chloride to Mitigate ice and Snow Accumulations.
I am writing in support of the development of a certificate program for roadside applicators that relies on “Green Snow Pro: Sustainable Winter Options” best management practices. In 2020, CRC conducted a one-day, watershed-wide synoptic sampling event in September. Though this is an annual event, 2020 marked the first year that we tested for chloride levels in the water. As you can see from the charts below, chloride levels were higher in more urbanized areas. It should be noted that the salt wedge in Connecticut River extends roughly from the Long Island Sound to Middletown. These data give us just a snapshot of chloride levels in warm weather and more data is needed to examine how these concentrations change throughout the deicing season.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Connecticut is conducted a multi-year study to look at the potential effect of road-salt application in the quality of stream waters crossed by I-95. USGS took samples during winter stormwater runoff events, on a monthly basis and during base-flow conditions. After assessing four watersheds in the area, USGS found that sites within more urbanized watersheds had higher concentrations of chloride; “[chloride] yields for these sites were positively correlated with the percentage of impervious cover, probably reflecting the application of deicers to roadways, as well as sources and practices associated with greater impervious cover, such as wastewater and septic-system discharges, and leachate from landfills and salt-storage areas.”5 Similarly, a study conducted in urban lakes neighboring the Twin Cities, MN collected water samples throughout the seasons, finding that lakes near major roads contained higher chloride and sodium concentrations than rural lakes. In two of the lakes tested, chemical stratification at the bottom of the lakes was strong enough to prevent dissolved oxygen from reaching lake sediments while several lakes exceeded “the chronic water quality standard for aquatic life” due to overwhelming chloride concentrations.
While we are supportive of this bill to develop a training and certificate program for road salt applicators, we suggest that bill be amended to include language to address the adverse impact not just on private wells and groundwater, but the impacts on surfaces waters as well, as clearly demonstrated by these two studies.
Thank you for your consideration. I can be reached for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-704-0057.