Aquarion’s Georgetown application deemed deficient

Aquarion water company is going to have to provide more information to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) before it will be allowed to remove millions of gallons of water from a well in Wilton.

“DEEP said the application is deficient and must be supplemented,” Town Counsel Ira Bloom told the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Jan. 7.

Aquarion submitted a Water Diversion Permit Application to DEEP on Oct. 4, 2018 seeking 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.

DEEP staff has 180 days after receipt of the application to determine if it is complete, and if not, can request additional information, which it now has done, Bloom said.

He said he learned the application had been deemed deficient in late December — through an undated copy of a letter from DEEP addressed to Aquarion — following DEEP’s first review of the application.

The letter spells out additional information DEEP wants in order to complete the application.

“They want modifications to the mitigation plan, they want information regarding the impact of the pumping on fish population, they want a post-monitoring plan, they want a more targeted analysis of the pumping’s impact on the wells, and a number of other details,” Bloom said.

He expects it will take Aquarion weeks or months to provide the requested information to DEEP.

In addition, a letter to DEEP dated Jan. 2 from the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission and Norwalk Shellfish Commission, expressed concerns about water quality and aquatic resources in the harbor as well as the river. “A lot of people are concerned obviously... from Norwalk as well as Wilton,” Bloom said.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the Norwalk River Watershed Association has also submitted a long series of questions to DEEP about the application.

The town is being assisted in this matter by Brian Blum of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, who is reviewing and interpreting the application and DEEP’s response in order to see where there are gaps, and explain potential impacts. “Blum is in the process of preparing a report right now,” Bloom said.

Stephen Studer, Bloom’s law partner at Berchem Moses, is taking the lead on this issue, Bloom said, because Studer has worked on diversion permits in the past.

Members of the public have voiced concerns about the application and how it will affect nearby wells and the Norwalk River. Bloom said DEEP will likely hold a public hearing on its own about the application, but a public hearing can also be called for by a petition of 25 citizens.

Vanderslice said she had hoped to have a meeting for the public in January about the application, but instead it will be held sometime in February after the town gets Blum’s report and more facts.

DEEP’s letter to Aquarion and the letter from Norwalk Harbor Management Commission and Norwalk Shellfish Commission can be found on the town website under “Info on Aquarion Application for Water Diversion Permit.”