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Norwalk River Watershed Association

Your Comments Needed on These Crucial Environmental Bills Now!

Ban Fracking Waste From CT
Support HB 6329

Ask the State to take action to permanently prohibit the disposal, treatment, storage, handling, de-icing applications and other uses of fracking waste and by-products anywhere in Connecticut.  Like our neighboring state of Vermont, we need to take final steps to protect all 169 of our Connecticut towns and cities.

Read Bill 6329

Curb Carbon Emissions 

Support Bill HB 7247

Establishes a carbon price for fossil fuels sold in Connecticut.  Support this bill as a way to help curb carbon emissions.  With the EPA under assault at the Federal level, it is more important than ever that the state of Connecticut act to help fight climate change.

Read Bill 7247

Restore Access To Water Planning Information
Support HB 7221
Restores the public’s right to know how much water is controlled by water companies, the location and quality of particular water sources, and how much water can be safely moved from a water source to another community in need of clean water.  Transparency and sound planning are needed, especially as we face drought conditions.
Encourage Increased Recycling

Support HB 5618

Fights the rising levels of plastic that end up in our waterways and oceans by updating Connecticut’s “bottle bill” which encourages the successful recycling of plastic in the state. As times have changed and the cost of doing business has risen, neither the deposit incentive nor the program fees have kept pace.  
Read Bill 5618

Comment VIA Email

Keep the Council on Environmental Quality
OPPOSE HB7051 section 3 
Opposes implementing the governor’s budget recommendations, which call for the defunding and complete elimination of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), our state’s only environmental watchdog. Now more than ever with the EPA under assault, Connecticut needs to be vigilant in protecting clean air and water, protecting open space and fighting climate change.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Zuraw/CT Post

CT DOT removing trees along Route 15

Your Comments Needed on Bill to Save Trees

A bill is being introduced to require the CT Department of Transportation to justify its tree removal along state highways. Trees are critical to helping remove toxins from roadway stormwater runoff. “This year, DOT intends to spend another $2 million removing trees, without any concrete plan for the removal of debris, and re-planting to prevent invasive species or ground erosion. This bill would require DOT to justify the work it is proposing before it is done, if it should be done at all,” according to the bill’s co-sponsor Michael D’Agostino, State Representative for Hamden. The bill is HB6123 and the public hearing will take place Wednesday, February 8th at 2:00 in Hearing Room 2B at the Legislative Office Building. If you would like to testify in support of this bill, sign-ups will begin at 8:30 on February 8th on the first floor of the Legislative Office Building. If you can’t make it to the hearing you can submit a statement in support by emailing it to envtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Even a simple note, supporting the bill, would be helpful. Please reference the bill number, HB6123, in your email. Alternatively, you can also call the Environment Committee at (860) 240-0440. Read the NRWA letter of support here.

2016 Long Island Sound Water Quality Report Released and It’s Not All Bad News

The 2016 Long Island Sound Hypoxia Season Review has been released by CT DEEP and the Interstate Environmental Commission. Nitrogen from sewers and stormwater runoff that washes into our rivers causes oxygen depletion (hypoxia) and fish kills in the Sound. This report reflects improvements made over the last 16 years as a result of policy aimed at reducing hypoxic conditions. Since the EPA, NY and CT implemented the Total Maximum Daily Load to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Dissolved Oxygen in Long Island Sound (2000 TMDL), significant progress has been made in reducing open water Sound hypoxic conditions. According to the report, since 2000, “Across Connecticut and New York, 106 wastewater treatment plants have been upgraded and 40 million fewer pounds of nitrogen have entered the Sound (51.5% reduction).” There is still work to be done, including in Norwalk and Danbury where storm conditions still result in sewage entering our waterways, but many of the numbers are moving in the right direction now.

Learn more about the planned redevelopment of Branchville this Thursday, January 5th at 5:30pm at the Ridgefield Library. Find out what these plans mean for the Norwalk River and help us advocate for water quality protections. Read the Transit Oriented draft development plan for BranchvilleDanbury News Times update. 
Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

Plans for Bridge Overhaul Fail to Protect Water Quality in Norwalk Harbor

The CT Department of Transportation has planned a $30 million overhaul of the Yankee Doodle Bridge that carries I-95 over the Norwalk Harbor, but the plan fails to address the problem of storm-water runoff containing contaminants which currently drains from the bridge into the harbor. The Norwalk Hour reports that the bridge contains 92 deck drains, many of which open directly into the harbor. Storm-water runoff from roadways includes pollutants such as oil, gasoline, asbestos, chromium, copper, nickel, rubber, zinc and lead. The Norwalk River Watershed Association supports the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission in its fight to convince the CT DOT to keep contaminants from running off the bridge and into the harbor where they adversely affect water quality and aquatic life. I-95 runoff concerns Norwalk Harbor Management Commission – The Hour; Norwalk Harbor Officials Press DOT on Bridge Runoff – The Hour

Walk Bridge Replacement Project releases its Environmental Impact StudyThe public hearing on the issue has been changed from October 6 to November 17 and will be held at Norwalk City Hall at 7pm.

Check out this new report on WHERE RIVERS ARE BORN: THE SCIENTIFIC IMPERATIVE FOR DEFENDING SMALL STREAMS AND WETLANDS from the national organization American Rivers.
Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help repair and rebuild the hiking trail along the Norwalk River through Topstone Preserve in Ridgefield on Saturday! Special thanks to Scout Troop 14 of Norwalk pictured below for their help. Danbury News-Times coverage of the event. 
NRWA and Woodcock Nature Center collaborate on a series of Community Conservation Initiatives involving library talks tied to volunteer community service action. The first in the series is our September 7th talk on Marine Debris at Ridgefield Library and the International Coastal Cleanup the following Saturday, Sept. 10 at Oyster Shell Park. In October, we are hosting an invasive plant pull and native planting at Merwin Meadows on the Saturday, Oct. 8 followed by a talk at the Wilton Library on October 18 by Carrie Sears, Master Gardener and co-founder of the Invasive Plant project TIP in Pound Ridge, on the importance of fostering native plants in our area. In November we will focus on hiking in Connecticut. Jeff Glans, who manages the Saugatuck Trail for the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, will speak at the Ridgefield Library about CT hiking trails on November 7th. The following Saturday, November 12th, we will hold a trail-blazing volunteer event. Check the events page for details.
Removal of the Flock Process Dam delayed until 2017.  Fish be dammed: Work delayed on removal of Flock Process Dam – The Hour.
Photo courtesy of The Norwalk Hour

Thank you to all who participated in NRWA’s October invasive removal Community Conservation Initiative by attending the Wilton Library Talk by Carolyn Sears on How to Identify Local Invasive Plants and by helping remove invasives and plant native plants at Merwin Meadows!

 

 

 

Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help create a new trail at Quarry Head Park in Wilton.  Together we learned how to use “benching” tools and added 600 feet of new trail from the parking lot down to the brook!  Check the events page for more trail-work events in the coming months.

Thank you to all of the volunteers–over 50 people!–who came out to help clean up Oyster Shell Park on Saturday as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup!  We picked up 1680 pounds of trash, filling 73 trash bags with garbage and 29 with recyclable bottles and cans. Quite a haul!!

And thanks to our partners Woodcock Nature Center, Harbor Watch at Earthplace, Norwalk Land Trust, and the Sheffield Sono Apartments.

In case you missed The Menace of Marine Debris, And What We Can Do About It, the talk by Chris Cryder of Save the Sound that NRWA and Woodcock Nature Center sponsored at the Ridgefield library, check out Robert Miller’s followup article in the Danbury News Times.

 

Thanks to everyone who joined NRWA and the Wilton Conservation Commission for the Wild Duck Reserve walk in September!

Norwalk River Watershed Association Receives $5000 Grant from REI To Create New Hiking Trail Maps of the Watershed and Restore Two Sections of Trail

REI, the outdoor gear and clothing co-op with a store in Norwalk, has granted NRWA $5000 to create and print new hiking trail maps of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River Watershed area.  The new maps will highlight completed and future sections of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) system that will eventually stretch 38 miles from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Danbury along the Norwalk River.  The map will also include spur trails off the NRVT as well as hiking areas open to the public across the seven watershed towns (Norwalk, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, Redding, Ridgefield and Lewisboro, NY).

In addition REI and NRWA will partner with other local organizations to host two volunteer trail stewardship events open to the public. At the first event on Saturday, September 24, 8:45AM-1PM, we will be building a new section of trail at Quarry Head Park in Wilton.  The second event will take place this spring, and volunteers will remove invasive plant species and plant native plants supplied by REI at Horseshoe Park in Wilton.

 

US Senator Chris Murphy Meets with NRWA. After visiting the watershed and meeting with NRWA, Copp’s Island Oysters and others to discuss ideas for protecting water quality in Connecticut’s rivers and the Sound, US Senator Chris Murphy announced the release of his Long Island Sound Investment Plan, which calls for $860 million of federal funding to protect Long Island Sound.

Native Plant of the Month: Amelanchier Canadensis 

FOR WILDLIFE VALUE AND BEAUTY ADD SHADBLOWS TO YOUR GARDEN

Shadblow, or Serviceberry, is one of the first small understory trees to bloom in the spring. It has frost-resistant flowers that are fragrant, white and showy and bloom before the leaves open. These flowers provide an important early season nectar source for butterflies and other beneficial insects. A Connecticut native, with tremendous wildlife value, shadblow was so named because it fruits in June when the shad (a northern fish) run. Researchers have documented at least 26 different types of wildlife that feed on its berries, starting in June when its fruit reaches maturity. The berries, red to dark-purple-black when ripe, are especially popular with songbirds, including bluebirds, robins, cardinals, orioles, waxwings and thrushes, in addition to chipmunks and squirrels.

A handsome landscape plant, that is low-maintenance, shadblow grows well in full sun or part shade. It reaches an average height of 6-15 feet, depending on the amount of sunlight and moisture it receives. Generally a shrubby tree, it will grow as a single-stemmed tree if shoots are removed. Shadblow shows a wide soil tolerance and can even grow in heavy clay soils. Able to thrive in suburban landscapes, its native habitat includes woodlands, grasslands and coastal riparian areas or wetlands. Leaf color ranges from light green in spring, to dark green in summer, and fall color is striking with shades of orange, gold, red and green.

Shadblow plantings are particularly effective against a dark or shaded woodland edge, which tends to highlight its form, flowers and radiant fall color. It is also effective along stream banks and ponds. Good companion plants include Eastern Redbud, Eastern Sweetshrub, violets and sedges.                                                                                  –By Elizabeth Craig

(NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH is a new series by NRWA master gardeners, Jackie Algon and Elizabeth Craig)

 

Norwalk’s Bike/Walk Task Force Seeks to Make The City Streets Safer

NRWA recently attended a meeting with Mayor Harry Rilling’s Bike/Walk Task Force, which is charged with making Norwalk’s streets and sidewalks safer for everyone. One of the group’s first projects was to create a map that shows existing bike routes, bike lanes and sharrowed (lanes to be shared by cyclists and motorists) lanes in the City and suggesting where additional routes could be developed. One of its current projects is developing a strategic plan for the next two years. It has drafted a plan and is currently vetting it with several shareholder groups. The task force meets the first Monday of each month, unless it’s a holiday. If it’s a holiday, they meet on the second Monday of the month. The meeting is from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm in the second floor conference room at the Norwalk Health Department, 137 East Avenue. All are welcome to attend. You can find out more about the taskforce here.        

 

Photo credit: Daniel Pietzsch of Onearth.org

 

Two Important Studies Released on Water Quality in Long Island Sound

The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC) have both released annual studies on hypoxia levels in Long Island Sound. Hypoxia occurs when seawater contains low levels of dissolved oxygen, below 3mg per liter as defined by these studies. Marine life needs dissolved oxygen in water to survive, so sustained periods of hypoxia threaten sea ecosystems. Oxygen levels can fall naturally during the summer when calm weather prevents the churning of seawater, which mixes oxygen rich surface waters with bottom water as happens in other seasons. However, according to the CT DEEP, “studies of the limited historical data base for the Sound suggest that summer oxygen depletion in Western Long Island Sound has grown worse since the 1950s.” Hypoxic conditions mainly occur in the Narrows and Western Basic of Long Island Sound, west of the line from Stratford, CT to Port Jefferson, NY. Both the CT DEEP and the IEC have been monitoring dissolved oxygen levels in the Sound since 1991.

Of the eight cruises conducted by CT DEEP in the summer of 2015, five different stations were documented as hypoxic, and of the 252 site visits completed in 2015, hypoxic conditions were found in four surveys. Compared to the previous 24-year average, 2015 was below average in area and near average in duration. Both the CT DEEP report and the IEC report are full of information on the state of water quality and marine life health in the Sound over the last 25 years.

 

 

WHO: Monsanto’s Roundup ‘probably carcinogenic’

Accreditation course will teach landscapers how to avoid using chemical agents

By FRANCIS CARR Jr.
Hour Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015 5:45 pm

 

GREENWICH — This fall, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) will lead its Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care in Fairfield County for the first time.

In March, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a report declaring glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup, a widely used agricultural herbicide produced by chemical giant Monsanto — to be “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“For decades, people have been led to believe that glyphosate and other organophosphates are not harmful to people or the environment,” said Jeff Cordulack, executive director of CT NOFA. “This is not the case, and many studies (including this latest report by WHO) have pointed to their dangers.”

Due to health and soil damage risks associated with chemical pesticides and herbicides, as well as Connecticut’s 2010 ban on chemical pesticides near elementary schools, it would behoove landscapers and landscape architects, as well as environmental educators and lawn enthusiasts, to familiarize themselves with methods of chemical-free land care, said Jeff Cordulack, executive director of CT NOFA. …article continued.

 

Norwalk Harbor gets a “C” on Water Quality Report Card issued in June for Long Island Sound.  The report card is an Initiative of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, which has become nationally recognized and has been used to evaluate and track water quality changes in serveral major water bodies in the country.  The report sheds light on the health of the Norwalk Harbor and our watershed, and will serve as a baseline moving forward.

 

Wilton Daisy Troop worked at the Wilton Playshop Rain Garden
Wilton Daisy Troop Spruces up Rain Garden

Thanks to Wilton Daisy Troop 50229 members Grace Couch, Mackenzie Northway and Emma-Hayes Setterlund for their good work planting native plants at the Wilton Playshop Rain Garden, designed and installed by Michael Dietz of UConn’s NEMO Program.  The Scouts worked with Elizabeth Craig to add red Cardinal Flowers, Joe Pyeweed and ferns.

You can make a difference every time it rains at your house, too.  Non-point source pollution (run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, roads and parking lots) has been cited by the US EPA as a major source of pollution for our waterways.  Rain gardens catch runoff, filtering it before it reaches rivers and streams.  For more information visit http://nemo.uconn.edu/raingardens/.

NRWA Works with REI to Enhance Hiking Trail

Last Fall local volunteers, REI and NRWA planted nine native Connecticut trees along the section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail between Union Park and Mathews Park in Norwalk. Volunteers cleaned up the trail and cut back invasive plant species. Watch for more opportunities this spring to help enhance trails and river banks in the watershed.

NRWA Helps Install Model Rain Garden in Wilton

In partnership with UCONN’s NEMO program, NRWA and volunteers from the community created a model rain garden at the Wilton Play Shop on Lover’s Lane in Wilton. Rain gardens catch and help filter contaminants from storm water runoff from roofs, parking lots and other impervious surfaces before they reach rivers and other waterways. For more information on rain gardens, visit the UCONN NEMO site. Photograph courtesy of Clear Choices Clean Water.