Aquarion Water Grab Update–Town Counsel Updates BOS
At last night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Town Counsel Ira Bloom updated the BOS members on the status of the application filed by Aquarion Water Company to withdraw up to one million gallons of water a day from a well in Wilton. Aquarion has owned the well, located near the Cannondale train station, since the mid 1980s; they have now filed the application for a water diversion permit with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
According to Bloom, by law the state has 180 days after receiving the application to determine if it’s complete; in December, the town received a copy of a letter from DEEP to Aquarion notifying the utility that their application was determined to be incomplete and has requested Aquarion submit additional information. Among the information the state requested was data on the impact of pumping on fish, a post-monitoring plan, more targeted analysis of pumping impact on wells, and other details.
On a slight positive note, Bloom said based on the amount of additional information requested by the state, the “assumption is that will take weeks or months for Aquarion to finish that up.”
Bloom also explained that the state has the ability to either schedule a public hearing or decide outright whether or not to issue a permit. If DEEP does not schedule a public hearing, 25 citizens can petition for one.
The town has also hired Langan Engineering and Environmental Services to advise officials on the matter; the engineer from Langan working with the town is Brian Blum, who has reviewed the application to help Wilton officials understand impact to residents, river and all potential impacts.
Blum accompanied first selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice and Bloom to attend a presentation by Aquarion at a meeting held at Wilton Library on Nov. 7. Also present at the meeting were several other groups who also expressed their concerns about the application, including the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission and the Norwalk River Watershed Association, which has submitted a long series of questions to DEEP on the matter.
“A lot of people are concerned, not just residents, but these other organizations,” Bloom told the selectmen.
Vanderslice echoed that assessment: “It’s not just us, there was a lot of Norwalk representation, and a lot of concerns about the river and other resources, a lot of questions being raised, all that has to be answered.”
Blum is in the process of preparing a report now, in conjunction with Mike Conklin, Wilton’s environmental affairs director. That report, says Bloom, is expected to be complete in the next few weeks.
Vanderslice has suggested holding a public forum. Before that happens, Bloom says everyone involved is trying to get as much information as possible. “Then we’ll see what kind of conclusions we can draw. We’re trying to get as much information as we can, evaluate it and present it to the public.”
He said he also assumes a public hearing with DEEP will happen at some point as he believes there will be sufficient interest from members of the public that 25 people will file a petition to request one.
Vanderslice noted that any documents in the town’s possession will be added to the town website.