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UConn replies to Farmington River petition

The University of Connecticut has responded to a petition opposed to its plan to draw water from the Farmington River, which Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups opposed.

Moveon.org shared the reply Wednesday, June 26.

Dear Voice of the Farmington River,

Judging from the email updates we have received on the number of petition signers, it’s clear to us at UConn that the interest in our proposed alternatives for a new source of water supply is still very strong.  Thank you for your continued interest, and I would like to provide you with an update on our work, especially for those who have signed the petition since my previous posting.

As you know, our Environmental Impact Evaluation concluded that each of three possible interconnections with existing water supply systems, those of MDC, Connecticut Water, and Windham Water, were considered viable in terms of their feasibility and the ways by which their respective environmental impacts could be mitigated.

With respect to the petition’s expressed concern for the possible transfer of water from the reservoirs along the Farmington River, we received numerous similar public comments on the EIE. Many of the commenters questioned the EIE’s thoroughness in addressing social and economic considerations for this as well as the other alternatives. To that end, we have formally reached out to each of the potential water suppliers for additional information that will help us address those questions. I’m pleased to report that these efforts have been useful in furthering our assessment.  There’s more on the timing of our response to the EIE comments below.

We also received several comments during the EIE public comment period suggesting that UConn locate the UConn Technology Park away from the Storrs Campus. The proximity of the Technology Park to the Main campus – where graduate and undergraduate students study and reside and faculty teach, research and advise – offers a location best suited to support both our academic mission and economic development. The UConn Technology Park, supported by the enactment of legislation in 2011, advances the University’s role as a top-tier academic and research institution and its pursuit of the fulfillment of its Academic Plan. By offering proximity and access to advanced technology, specialized equipment, faculty expertise, and graduate students, research and technology parks are typically located adjacent to universities’ core science, technology, engineering and math facilities in order to support the creation of partnerships with industry. For these reasons, the Tech Park has been sited
at UConn’s main campus in Storrs. In addition, the North Campus area has been the subject of several previous environmental impact reports, similar to that undertaken for potential sources of water supply, which envisioned this type of use. You can find these reports on the UConn Office of Environmental Policy’s website at http://www.envpolicy.uconn.edu/eie.html (scroll down the website below the water EIE information).

Our work continues on preparing the EIE’s corresponding Record of Decision, the official document that will formally address the issues identified in the comments. This document will require our UConn Board of Trustees endorsement prior to its formal submission to the CT Office of Policy and Management for their review and approval. At this point, we expect the Record of Decision to be presented to the Board of Trustees at their scheduled August 7th meeting. Please check the UConn Office of Environmental Policy’s website (http://www.envpolicy.uconn.edu/eie.html) for updates on the EIE and Record of Decision.

And, as mentioned in my last posting, your patience is very much appreciated.

Jason Coite
UCONN Environmental Compliance Professional

Call, sign petition to protect Farmington

The University of Connecticut is seeking an additional water supply for a potential technology park in Storrs and increased development in the town of Mansfield, and has solicited a number of proposals. The plan submitted by MDC would draw water from a reservoir in the Farmington River watershed, west of Hartford, and pipe it to Storrs.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Save the Sound, Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups are concerned that this would violate the state’s Plan of Conservation and Development by encouraging sprawl in rural areas, that it moves water from one watershed to another, and that it doesn’t conform to a regional water plan. Following these plans is one of the most important ways to make sure our waters stay healthy and adequate to support our communities and wildlife. (Read more in the groups’ blog post.)

Please join in asking UConn to find a more sustainable way to meet its water needs, and in calling for statewide planning that will protect our critical water resources.

Step 1: Call UConn

Call the office of UConn President Susan Herbst at 860-486-2337 .

Sample script:

“Hi, my name is ___, from ___. I’m calling to ask President Herbst to find a solution to UConn’s water needs that doesn’t pull water from the Farmington River Watershed. Water planning is an issue that affects all Connecticut residents. Please make UConn a leader by choosing a solution that supplies only as much water as is needed, protects the integrity of the Farmington and Thames watersheds, and conforms to the state’s Plan of Conservation and Development. Could you pass my message along? Thank you!”

Step 2: Sign the Petition

Voices for the Farmington River has created a petition asking for a smarter water solution for UConn. Please join the over 1,000 Connecticut residents who have already spoken up for sustainable water planning. Then please share it with your friends. Let’s see how many signatures we can get before June 7, when the petition will be ended and delivered to Governor Malloy and President Herbst.