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
jason.coite@uconn.edu






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