March 20, 2006
Contact: Kirt Mayland, Eastern Water Project Director, 860-435-2073 (w); 646-302-3639 (c)
HARTFORD -- Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, today applauded the action by the Legislature’s Environment Committee to pass HB 5277. The bill gives the DEP the right to review and regulate water uses that are particularly abusive to rivers and are currently “grandfathered” out of any environmental review.
Currently, approximately 87% of all state water consumed is not subject to any environmental review. This “grandfathering” of water withdrawals resulted in one of the largest fish kills in the state’s history last summer when a stretch of the Fenton River was completely dewatered by the University of Connecticut. The lack of a permitting process for so many of the state’s water withdrawals was also the root of the famous litigation on the Shepaug River, which cost the parties about $6 million and has forced them to look to the state this year for $3 million in funding.
Significant leadership for this bill has been provided by Representatives Richard Roy (Milford), Roberta Willis (Salisbury) and Mary Mushinsky (Wallingford) and Senator Bill Finch (Bridgeport).
“This bill address the biggest gap in state water policy” said Kirt Mayland, TU’s Eastern Water Project Director. “With this authority, the DEP will now be able to do its job and prevent more Fentons and Shepaugs from occurring in future years.” Bill Blaufuss, Chair of TU’s volunteer Connecticut Council, praised the passage of the bill by the Committee. “This bill is long overdue and represents a major step forward by the state towards restoration of many of its depleted waterways. Without a bill like this, Connecticut will not be able to ensure either sustainable water supply for future generations or the health of our river’s and streams”
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with 150,000 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.