Drinking Water Lands
Human health depends on pure, clean drinking water. And nothing protects our drinking water sources like the forests that buffer and safeguard our reservoirs and the rivers and streams that flow into them. However, bad developments threaten our drinking water lands, adversely affecting our water quality.
DRINKING WATER LANDS
CFE, along with its Endangered Lands Coalition, has worked hard to draft and pass laws protecting more than 100,000 acres of water company lands that surround Connecticut's drinking water reservoirs. However, another quarter-of-a-million acres of privately owned, undeveloped, and unprotected forestland that purify these streams, rivers, and reservoirs are increasingly threatened by unabated development.
CFE recently filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Appellate Court seeking to block a high-density development by Eureka V in 63 acres of the Saugatuck Drinking Water Watershed in Ridgefield. CFE is arguing that the development, at the proposed densities, would be harmful to the drinking water supply and would set a bad precedent for developments in drinking water watersheds.
During the 2007 legislative session, CFE and its Endangered Lands Coalition worked hard to pass Public Act 07-252, which successfully removed threats to the successful program that brought water companies incentives to sell private water company lands to conservation purchasers. This law clarifies that water companies can sell land to towns, the state or land trusts for conservation without having to go to public auction. This is critical, because towns and land trusts simply cannot compete with cash-rich developers at a public auction for these forest legacy parcels.
PROTECTING OPEN SPACE
CFE also works tirelessly to protect our open space- parcels of undeveloped land that provide opportunities for recreation and business and contribute greatly to our quality of life.
With more than three million acres of open space in Connecticut, there are times when these parcels are at risk of development. During those times, CFE intervenes to seek to ensure that the land is preserved in its pristine state for all residents and wildlife to enjoy.
NU – NSTAR Merger
In February, CFE was granted intervener status by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority in the Northeast Utilities – NSTAR merger. CFE sought to protect 9,500 acres of valuable open space owned by NU in approximately 90 municipalities in the state.
An agreement was reached between the state and the two utility companies last month, in which NU agreed to transfer 1,000 acres of open space, including King's Island (Enfield/Suffield), Skiff Mountain (Sharon), Hanover Road (Newtown), and Barlett Road (Waterford), into a preservation land trust. The agreement also extends the existing Memorandum of Understanding until 2024 concerning the other 8,500 acres of land. This gives the local towns where the land is located or a local land trust the option to buy the land if and when the company wishes to sell.
In 2000, CFE successfully intervened in the proposed merger of NU and Con Edison. As a result, NU and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect the landholdings. Nearly 375 parcels of land were identified as having high value for public recreation or natural resource conservation or preservation and were placed on a Conservation List as part of the MOU. The MOU gives towns and land trusts first opportunity to purchase any of these parcels for open space conservation and recreation purposes.
For several years, CFE has been successfully fighting to stop development of the 1,000-acre coastal forest known as the Preserve in Old Saybrook. CFE won decisions blocking the development at the Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands Commission, in the Superior Court and in the Appellate Court.
CFE previously presented experts that testified that the development would unreasonably fragment the coastal forest and harm the rich array of vernal pools, wetlands and wildlife.
CFE is continuing to work with Old Saybrook residents to fight back new proposals for development and to permanently protect the site.