NEWS May 27, 2005
For Immediate Release
Attention: Assignment/Environment/Outdoor Editor
Contact: Kirt Mayland, Eastern Water Project Director,
House vote is an important step en route to better management of state's river and stream flows
HARTFORD -- The national coldwater conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) applauded Friday's action by the Connecticut state House to pass SB 1294.
The bill, which mandates that the Department of Environmental Protection revise its 1979 streamflow regulations by December 31, 2006, next heads to Governor Rell's desk where she is expected to sign the bill shortly.
The bill was passed with the broad support of Connecticut's environmental community and other interested parties. It is the product of months of work by a wide variety of stakeholders, with significant leadership in the House provided by Representative Mary Mushinsky of Wallingford and Representative Richard Roy of Milford.
The 1979 standards are outdated and have no ecological basis. In the Connecticut Supreme Court case, Waterbury v. Washington, regarding the Shepaug River, the Court ruled that even though the Shepaug was impaired by low flows, because it complied with the 1979 regulations, the impairment was not "unreasonable."
SB 1294 will fill this gap in the protection for Connecticut's rivers and streams by mandating the adoption of new standards designed to protect natural aquatic life and based on the best available science. Importantly, the new standards will be applicable to all streams and rivers in the state.
"This bill is a great first step towards a more comprehensive state-wide water allocation policy," said Kirt Mayland, TU's Eastern Water Project Director. "Although Connecticut has plenty of rain, growing water demand in specific locations is putting too much pressure on many our state's streams. This bill should help protect those streams, and move the state towards sustainable water allocation," Mayland said. "TU looks forward to working with the DEP in its creation of these new regulations over the next year and a half."
Al Chase, Chair of TU's volunteer Connecticut Council, praised the passage of the bill by the House. "The bill represents a major step forward by the state of Connecticut towards restoration of many of its depleted waterways. This bill will allow the recovery of these damaged rivers and streams and provide much-needed protection for our more pristine ones."
Trout Unlimited is North America's leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The Eastern Water Project is a new program focused on creating state policies that promote sustainable water management and healthy instream flows.