The town’s environmental consultant has found Aquarion’s water diversion application to be full of holes.
That’s basically what Brian Blum, senior associate of Langan environmental services, pointed out in a report dated Jan. 31, issued to Michael Conklin, Wilton’s director of environmental affairs.
The report lists a number of deficiencies and omissions Langan found with Aquarion’s application to the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which seeks to remove one million gallons of water per day from a well in Cannondale at 3 Cannon Road, next to the ABC Boys’ House and the Norwalk River, where there is a significant aquifer.
Members of the public have voiced concerns about the application and how it will affect nearby wells and the Norwalk River.
Langan’s review focused on the completeness of Aquarion’s permit application, potential impacts to other users of groundwater in the vicinity of the Cannondale Well Field, and potential impacts to the environment, including the Norwalk River and associated wetlands.
The report says Aquarion’s permit application is incomplete because it lacks a hydraulic budget for the watershed, “an essential tool to assess the impacts and long-term sustainability of the proposed water withdrawal.”
Langan recommends Aquarion include a water balance with the permit application to account for the average inflows and outflow of water in order to justify that the diversion is safe and viable in the long term.
“Without a water balance it is not possible to determine the long-range effect of the proposed diversion on water resource management or the environment,” the report says.
It also says shallow wells within the pumping zone of influence should be enumerated and possible adverse impacts should be evaluated. “Potential mitigation efforts or options should be discussed with the respective property owners to gain their consent prior to pumping,” according to the report.
The report criticizes Aquarion’s application for lacking “the detail” required to accurately assess the effect of the proposed diversion on the Norwalk River, including riverine habitats and water quality.
The permit application refers to an “approximate” location of the production well and that is not sufficient, according to the report. Langan says there should be an accurate well location plan prepared by a licensed surveyor as well as a copy of the “as built” well construction.
The permit application is also unclear about the “maximum rate of withdrawal,” and “frequency of withdrawals.”
A section of the application denotes withdrawal frequency as 24 hours per day and 365 days per year, which, according to Langan, is inconsistent with Aquarion’s mitigation plan that says no pumping will occur from March through June, annually, and that pumping will either be limited or reduced during periods of low flow based on the seven-day average flow of the Norwalk River.
In order to minimize potential harmful impacts to the Norwalk River, and associated wetlands and fauna, the report recommends that Aquarion agree not to pump under “low-flow” conditions, outside the realm of natural river fluctuations.
The report further criticizes Aquarion’s mitigation plan for not mentioning any potential impact on the nearby YMCA pond and other wetlands.
Langan advises that Aquarion modify its mitigation plan to include monitoring of the YMCA pond level and submit written annual reports to the DEEP at the end of every calendar year with data collected during the year and an evaluation of the wetlands, vernal pools, and surface waters.
A full copy of Langan’s report can be found on the town’s website, wiltonct.org, under Info on Aquarion Application for Water Diversion Permit.
DEEP is holding an informational meeting about Aquarion’s permit application on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m., in the Brubeck Room of Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road.
This meeting is not a public hearing, but will provide an opportunity for the applicant to present its application and receive comments from the public.
Representatives from DEEP will be present to facilitate the meeting and respond to any questions regarding administrative processes, however DEEP will not formally receive any public comment at this meeting.
DEEP has made no final or tentative decision regarding this application. Once DEEP determines the application to be complete and finishes its review process, DEEP will issue a Notice of Tentative Determination, and will provide an opportunity to formally receive comment.