News & Advocacy

Norwalk River Watershed Association

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Here are the letters we have sent advocating for water quality and habitat protections this year.


Aquarion Water Company applied for a permit in early October 2018 to pump 1 million gallons per day from a previously unused well next to the Norwalk River in the Cannondale area of Wilton, reducing the flow of the river by up to 10% of the previous 7-day average for 25 years.  We have serious concerns about the effects this diversion could have on the river, area wetlands, and possibly nearby private wells.  The water will go to Southwest Fairfield County (Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan) and Ridgefield to improve drought resiliency. 

NRWA questions whether this well is necessary at this time, or whether drought resiliency could be met through water conservation, infrastructure repairs, and other improvements.

Aquarion held a public meeting on February 26 in Wilton and over 100 people attended.  The meeting lasted 3 hours with several residents, representatives, and regional and state environmental organizations asking questions and making comments against the the well. Here is news coverage of the event.
WiltonThe town of Wilton hired an environmental consultant who asks these questions about it, and here is the Wilton Bulletin coverage.
Here is early coverage in the Wilton BulletinGood Morning Wilton, the Norwalk Hour. 
Aquarion presented the application to stakeholders from Wilton and Norwalk on Wed, Nov. 7.
We question whether this well is necessary at this time.  If you agree, please call or write to the CT Dept of Energy & Environmental Protection. Here are some of the concerns we have about the well, some suggested comments, and where to send them.

Harbor Watch reports that water quality in the Norwalk River failed to meet minimum state standards 81% of the time in 2018. These numbers will likely be made worse if Aquarion water company is granted a permit by the CT Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to begin pumping 1 million gallons a day from a well next to the river in Wilton, as it has requested. Pumping will reduce the flow of the river and divert an important source of cool, clean water in order to secure drought resiliency in the area. NRWA feels drought resiliency should be achieved through water conservation. If you agree that this water should be left in our river, find out more about how to conserver water here and  let your town leaders and CT DEEP know.


More action to take: These numbers are worse than 2016 and 2017, partly because of increased rain this year. More rain means more runoff from paved areas, which is the main source of water pollution. Ask your town officials about their stormwater management plans and what they are doing to protect our river from runoff. We need to let them know we want them to enforce Inland Wetlands regulations and setbacks from waterways for new development. 

JOIN THE EFFORT TO BAN FRACKING WASTE FROM CT TOWN-BY-TOWN and pass a state ban.  We are working with volunteers in the six CT watershed towns to ban fracking waste through local ordinance. In 2018 Redding and Norwalk passed ordinances banning this toxic, radioactive waste joining 52 other towns and cities in CT. Here is the petition residents signed in Redding which began the process there. Ridgefield used the same petition and will hold a vote January 9, 2019 at 7PM at Town Hall.

Lots more information here!    TO GET INVOLVED, CONTACT US AT



More information on the State Water Plan.

Join Us To Build A Pollinator Pathway. Find out more here. Also, check out our new website  And follow us on facebook at  @Wilton Pollinator Pathway; @Ridgefield Pollinator Pathway & @Norwalk Pollinator Pathway

Our new yard medallion signs are here! Order one today.


Thank you to all the volunteers who came out all summer and fall to plant pollinator gardens along the  Pollinator Pathway!  Special thanks to REI, FactSet, Ridgefield Rotary Club, Wilton Garden Club, Town of Ridgefield for funding the purchase of plants for our Pollinator Pathway habitat restoration projects. 

Great news for birds in Connecticut!

Audubon Connecticut has recognized the Great Meadows, lush farmland and forested wetlands along an 8-mile stretch of the Connecticut River, as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The Great Meadows IBA includes Rocky Hill and Glastonbury Meadows, Wethersfield Cove and Crow Point in Wethersfield, and Keeney Point in Glastonbury and East Hartford. This area provides important stopover habitat for several declining grassland bird species including Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Bobolink, Horned Larks, and Savannah Sparrow. It is also an important area for waterfowl, such as Canada Geese, American Black Duck, Mallard, Wood Duck, Common Merganser, and Green-winged Teal, particularly in spring migration. Bald Eagle nest at two locations within the IBA and 20 percent of the area is floodplain forest, a key habitat identified in the Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan. Read more…

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.

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.

NRWA and Woodcock Nature Center collaborate on a series of Community Conservation Initiatives involving library talks tied to volunteer community service action.  Check the events page for details.

Thank you to all of the volunteers–over 100 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 1800 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.

Norwalk River Watershed Association Receives $3000 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 $3000 to help build the Pollinator Pathway along the Norwalk River Valley Trail in Norwalk this year.

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 


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
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

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

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.