Stormwater runoff and the pollution it carries is a very large threat to our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound. ECCD has been involved with installing many stormwater capture and infiltration projects to intercept polluted stormwater runoff. These systems use nature as a filter to purify the water as it soaks into the ground. All of these Best Management Practices, or BMPs, projects were recommendations in existing watershed based plans. Highlighted text will bring you to additional downloadable brochures or fact sheets.
Latimer Brook Stormwater Infiltration Project
During the summer of 2017, ECCD and the Town of East Lyme will install stormwater infiltration structures under a parking lot at East Lyme High School. Currently, the 1 acre parking lot discharges untreated stormwater runoff to nearby Latimer Brook, the primary tributary to the Niantic River. The Niantic River, located between the towns of East Lyme and Waterford, is a significant commercial and recreational resource to both communities. Protection of its water quality will ensure the continued enjoyment of the river by local and regional visitors.
The infiltration structures will allow an estimated 900,000 gallons of stormwater per year to soak into the permeable sand and gravel deposits under the parking lot, reducing both the volume of stormwater and amount of contaminants entering Latimer Brook. In conjunction with the stormwater infiltration project, the Niantic river Watershed Committee, Inc and the East Lyme School Department will be installing a bioretention rain garden in a lawn area adjacent to the parking lot. This rain garden will infiltrate stormewater from a portion of nearby athletic fields, preventing associated contaminants, including sediment, fertilizer and pesticides, from entering the brook.
The stormwater infiltration project will be funded, in part, b CT DEEP through a Clean Water Act § 319 Non-point Source Program grant. The bioretention rain garden will be funded, in part, through an Environmental Stewardship Program Grant from the Dominion Foundation.
Grand Street Reconstruction and Stormwater Management, East Lyme
In late 2017, ECCD and the Town of East Lyme will install stormwater management practices along Grand Street in downtown Niantic as Part of a Grand Street improvement project. Currently, stormwater from this busy mixed commercial/residential area is discharged directly to the Niantic River with no water quality treatment. This project is currently under development by project partners. Stay tuned for more details.
Moosup Garden Apartments Rain Gardens Project, Plainfield
In 2016, as part of a US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant which funded the Ekonk Brook Trackdown and Watershed Based Plan, ECCD installed rain gardens at the Moosup Garden Apartments, in the Moosup section of Plainfield. These rain gardens were installed to capture and infiltrate contaminated stormwater runoff. This runoff originated near the dumpsters scattered around the apartment complex, and then discharged directly into Ekonk Brook through the stormdrain system, degrading water quality. A rain garden was installed next to each dumpster. Stormwater runoff was diverted from each dumpster area to a nearby rain garden, interupting the flow of contaminated stormwater into the the stormdrain system, and reducing the amount of pollution entering Ekonk Brook.
Colonial Townhouse Apartments Green Infrastucture Project, Mansfield and Willimantic
In 2016, ECCD installed rain gardens and tree filters at the Colonial Town house Apartments, located in Mansfield and Willimantic. This project, which was recommended in the 2014 Lower Natchaug River Watershed Based Plan, was funded in part by the CT DEEP through an US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant program. Stormwater from the apartment complex dischages to the Natchaug River at Lauter Park. The rain garden and tree filter units will treat and/or infiltrate a combined volume of approximately 548,000 gallons of stormwater per year, reducing stormwater volume and pollutant loading to the Natchaug River. This project will serve as a model for other similar stormwater BMP projects in the region, particularly in heavily developed commercial and urban areas.
Tree Filters Installed in the City of Groton to Improve Water Quality in Baker Cove
ECCD was awarded funding from CT DEEP through the Clean Water Act §319 Nonpoint Source grant program to install tree filters at the City of Groton Municipal Complex and adjacent Washington Park. In partnership with the City of Groton, seven tree filters were installed in September 2015 to treat stormwater runoff from the City Hall and Park parking areas and driveways. Stormwater from these areas currently flows into Birch Plain Creek, which is a tributary to Baker Cove. Baker Cove has been closed for a number of years to shell fishing for direct consumption due to high levels of bacteria found in the water. This stormwater management practice is the first in what ECCD and the City of Groton hope to be a series of projects that will improve the water quality of Baker Cove.
Niantic River Tree Filters in East Lyme and Waterford
ECCD was awarded funding from CT DEEP through the US EPA Clean Water Act §319 Nonpoint Source grant program to install tree filters along Pennsylvania Avenue in Niantic, and on Mago Point in Waterford. Four tree filters were installed in May 2015 in Niantic as part of the Niantic Streetscape Improvement project. Four additional tree filters were installed in summer 2016 at the State of Connecticut's Mago Point overflow boat launch parking lot, as part of the Town of Waterford's Mago Point Improvement project. These 8 tree filters help treat contaminated stormwater runoff that previously flowed untreated directly to the Niantic River, improving water quality for recreation and aquatic habitat.
Lauter Park Riparian Buffer Restoration
In 2015, ECCD received funding from the State's Supplimenta Environmental Projects Program through the Rivers Alliane of Connecticut to restore the riparian buffer along the shore of the Natchaug River at Lauter Park in Willimantic.
Riparian buffers, which are strips of vegetation alongside a river or stream, provide important protection to both the physical character of a stream and its water quality The vegetation itself provides a barrier to stormwater runoff by slowing down sufrace flow as it works its waythrough the vegetation, which allows it to soak into the ground. This reduces the amount of contaminants in the stormwater, which in a well-used park like Lauter Park, could include vehicular chemicals, trash, sediment, fecal bacteria from animal waste and lawn fertilizers and pesticides from reaching the river. Plant roots also armor the stream banks, holding soil together during periods of high flow, so that the stream banks don't erode away.
The riparian buffer at Lauter Park has been diminished from many years of activity at the park to the pointthat, with the exception of mature trees, the river's edge is nearly devoid of both vegetation and top soil. Utilizing the SEP funding, ECCD partnered with the Town of Windham to restore 500 feet of riparian buffer as recommended in the Lower Natchaug River Watershed Based Plan. Approximately 25 students from Eastern Connecticut State University volunteered through the annual Town Pride/Town Wild event to plant a mix of shrubs, perennials and small trees alongside the river. Prides Corner Farm of Lebanon donated additional plants to assist with the restoration.
Colony Road Tree Filter Project, East Lyme
In 2012, ECCD, in partnership with the Town of East Lyme, installed 5 tree filter units in the Colony Road neighborhood. The tree filters treat approximately 1 million gallons of stormwater runoff each year prior its discharge to Latimer Brook, the primary tributary to the Niantic River. The installation of the tree filters has significantly reduced the amount of common non-point source pollutants from being discharged into Latimer Brook. This includes a 385% discharge of E. coli bacteria. These tree filters are helping to improve the water quality in the brook for recreation and aquatic habitat. This project was funded in part by a US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant through the CT DEEP.
Demonstration rain gardens and riparian buffers installed in Woodstock, CT
In 2012, ECCD was awarded EPA Clean Water Act § 319 NPS funding through the CT DEEP to install stormwater improvement projects in Woodstock, CT. Working with the Town of Woodstock and other partners, ECCD installed two demonstration projects in the Little River watershed. A Biorention Rain Garden Project was installed behind the Woodstock Historical Society/Palmer Hall building at the Woodstock Arboretum and second project involved planting a riparian buffer along a stream where none previously existed at the Woodstock Golf Course.
What is a Rain Garden?
Rain Gardens are gardens planted in a depression. When stormwater runoff is directed towards a rain garden, it is captured and soaked into the ground. There are many benefits to using rain gardens. Click here to download an informative brochure on rain gardens.
What is a Bioretention Project?
A biorention projects is like a rain garden but is usually larger in scale and may include an underdrain system to direct overflow from larger rain events. Like rain gardens, a biorention project uses nature to treat stormwater as it infiltrates through the ground. A biorention project is typically sized to capture and infiltrate the runoff from at least the first inch of rain. The most contaminated water from a storm is typically in the runoff from that first inch of runoff. Any additional runoff is typically less polluted.
What is a Tree Filter?
In the battle against nonpoint source pollution, new methods are being developed and tested every year. One such method employs an ancient strategy – the ability of nature to remediate contaminants. This new twist on an old process is called a “tree filter.” Street trees in urban settings are not a new idea. What is new is the idea of setting a tree in a specially processed growth medium in an enclosed or semi-enclosed structure, and connecting it to the storm drain system.Storm runoff picks up contaminants on the ground – chemicals, heavy metals, trash, salts, fertilizers, pesticides and sediments – and transports them into the storm drain system. Traditional storm drain systems were designed to channel and remove storm runoff from paved surfaces as expeditiously as possible to avoid road flooding. Little or no thought was given to the contaminants that stormwater picked up along the way. Tree filters are designed to treat these contaminants. Microbes in the growth medium and the tree itself do the work of removing the contaminants through biological processes. The microbes and tree absorbs nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, removing them from the storm water. The tree may also remove salts, metals and harmful chemicals and either absorb and alter them, store them or transpire them through the leaves. Oil and grease digesting bacteria in the soil can break down petroleum products transported in the storm water. Heavy metals may adsorb onto sediment in the unit and stay put. Stormwater that has been treated through this natural water pollution treatment system can exit the tree filter up to 95% cleaner than it was when it entered!
Tree filter units are very adaptable and can be retrofitted into previously developed cityscapes. They require very little space. Most small trees are suitable for use in filter units. Tree filters can be set up in series along streets, so that as polluted storm water enters the storm drain system, it passes through a series of tree filters before being discharged into the receiving water body. Click here to download our Tree Filter brochure. Click here to see a short slide show demonstrating how a tree filter is installed.
What is a Riparian Buffer?
A riparian buffer is a vegetated area along a stream or lake shoreline. These buffers help to improve water quality by slowing down, spreading out and soaking in rain water. The roots of trees and shrubs help to stabilize the shoreline and decrease erosion., The shade from the tree canopies help to keep the water cooler. Falling leaves are an important food resource in the aquatic food chain.
These projects were funded in part by a US EPA Clean Water Act section 319 grant through the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection unless otherwise specified.
Soil and water conservation are the main focus of the ECCD.
Woodstock Dairy Farm Agriculture Waste Management Project
ECCD is partnering with a large dairy farm in Woodstock, CT to install several agriculture waste management practices. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2017 on the installation of sub-surface drainage beneath the farm's silage bunkers, followed by the installation of a silage leachate collection system. Contractors will also be installing an agriculture waste transfer system to move waste from both the milkhouse and barn. Finally, the project will include the construction of a custom concrete receiving tank for agricultural waste. This project will reduce nutrients and pathogens from discharging into Little River, which provides drinking water to the Town of Putnam and is a priority in NRCS's National Water Quality Initiative. This project is funded in part by CT DEEP through a Clean Water Act § 319 Program Grant.
Dairy Farm Fields Nutrient Reduction Project
ECCD is collaborating with a dairy farm to install a woodchip bioreactor to intercept runoff from a tile-drained field in South Woodstock. A woodchip bioreactor is typically a trench filled with woodchips intercepting the outflow from the tile drain system. The untreated, nutrient enriched tile drain runoff is directed to flow through the woodchips where it is treated. This approach to reducing NPS pollution has not been tried in Connecticut. Click here for more information about the woodchip bioreactor.
A second component of this project involves the purchase of precision planting equipment which is being installed onto an updated corn planter purchased by Valleyside. The precision planting equipment will allow Valleyside to plant its corn into a living cover crop, which will leave the cover crop in the ground longer, thereby decreasing erosion and reducing sediment and nutrient discharge from fields. The precision planting equipment will also provide valuable information to Valleyside regarding its agricultural practices and will adjust seeding rates automatically, saving the farm $3,000 -5,000 per year. Funded in part by CT DEEP through a CWA §319 NPS Program grant.
Building a “CT Urban Agricultural Network” in Eastern CT
In 2016 ECCD, in partnership with GROW Windham in Willimantic, was awarded a grant from NRCS through the National Association of Conservation District’s (NACD) Urban Agriculture Conservation Initiative. This new program by NACD provides a total of $2 million to 42 conservation districts in 25 states to “allow districts to help urban farmers, community gardens, and other local agricultural partnerships implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.”
In eastern CT, our project began in the Fall of 2016 by supporting GROW Windham’s design and construction of their new growing space to the gardens that GROW Windham has managed for more than 20 years. GROW Windham and other experienced growers designed the site with input from community members, UConn Cooperative Extension and ECCD. With the site’s unique location near Sawmill Brook and the Natchaug River, it is a great opportunity to demonstrate conservation practices on farms and community gardens in urban areas.
Along with this technical assistance, another core project goal is outreach and education. In October, a series of “Workshop Workdays” began. These are an invitation to farmers, growers from other cities, and the local community to learn about the value that certain conservation practices have in urban agriculture (site selection & garden design, soil health, fertilizer/compost management, cover crops and buffer plantings, etc). In addition, the Workshop Workdays are a chance to get dirty and learn about implementing practices through projects in GROW Windham’s new growing space. October’s Workshop Workday concentrated on soil health, with activities on evaluating and amending soils, cover crops, and best practices when planting fruit trees. For 2017, the Workshop Workdays* are:
1. March 25 – Protecting & Improving Water Quality
2. April 22 – Ways to Conserve Water (& Irrigation)
3. May 27 – Composting Basics & Management
4. June 24 – Pest Control Using “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM)
Also in spring 2017, a full-day conference* is being held in Willimantic for urban growers in the region to meet one another and share information. In concert with the Workshop Workdays, this event is the beginning of building an active community of urban growers, to be known as the CT Urban Agricultural Conservation Network. It is our goal that the CUACN becomes a robust network of growers and organizations that can support one another in determining and implementing conservation practices, increasing productivity, developing education programs, and sustaining and growing a network of urban agricultural programs in the region.
*For more information on these events, please contact Michael Soares, ECCD Conservation Technician, at email@example.com or 860-319-8809.
Small Farm Manure BMPs
While there is funding available to assist larger commercial farms to reduce polluted runoff or install best management practices, small hobby farms don't qualify for those programs. These small farms are just as likely to have contaminated runoff, especially from poorly managed manure piles. ECCD was awarded an US EPA CWA § 319 NPS program grant through the CT DEEP to work with small farm owners in Woodstock and Promfret and teach them about manure management BMPs. As part of this project, ECCD distributed manure compost covers that would shield a manure pile from rain and reduce manure contaminated runoff from draining into nearby wetlands and streams. To learn more about manure management on small farms, click here to download an informational brochure.
An extention of the Small Farms project included installation of several Best Management Practices (BMPs) at the University of Connecticut's horse paddocks on Horse Barn Hill Road. The BMPs will reduce contaminated runoff from entering local waterways while providing a healthier living space for the horses. The BMPs, which complement existing BMPs, include a processed aggregate berm, a woodchip berm, stone dust and sand surface treatments in the paddocks, a fence and two rubber belt water deflectors. Informational signage was installed to educate the users of this facility about the BMPs. For more information about these BMPs, here to open an informational brochure.
ECCD Completes A Project in Woodstock to Reduce NPS Runoff from a Dairy Farms
The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District assisted a family run dairy farm in Woodstock, Connecticut, with a project that redirected roof runoff away from the barnyard. By installing rain gutters along the roof edge and redirecting the runoff, this project greatly reduced the possibility of the runoff carrying manure from the barnyard to a local brook.
Redirecting Silage Leachate Away from a Local Brook
One method of stock piling feed for dairy cows is chopping the entire corn plant into “silage”. However, a byproduct of silage storage is a liquid that leaches out, which is toxic to aquatic creatures. So it is important that a farm’s silage storage area be constructed in a way that prevents the leachate from being carried by stormwater to a wetland, brook, or pond. A 2012 ECCD project addressed this issue through the reconstruction of the silage bunkers at a Woodstock dairy farm, whose silage storage area is located a short distance uphill from North Running Brook in the Little River watershed. ECCD was one of several partners who helped this farm reconstruct their silage bunkers. The construction project has been successfully completed, and the new bunkers, complete with a new leachate capturing system, are now providing protection for North Running Brook. This project was featured as an EPA NPS Success Story.
Aerated Compost Facility
ECCD assisted a farm in Woodstock to construct an aerated compost facility for managing dairy mortalities. The covered facility is reducing contaminated run-off from entering local waterbodies and the aeration system is composting deceased livestock more quickly. Solar power is providing electricity to the aeration system. Funded in part by CT DEEP through a CWA §319 NPS Program grant.
ECCD Purchases Farm Machines to Help Reduce Runoff
In the spring of 2008, ECCD began a grant-funded project a little different from our other projects. We actually purchased farm equipment! We are now the proud owners of two Aerway® aerators!
We have undertaken many grant-funded projects over the years. A large number have involved working with farmers in an effort to reduce the chances of fertilizers being swept away by heavy rains and ending up in our local rivers and ponds. The main culprits are the plant nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, which are found in both manure and commercial fertilizers. The farmers welcome projects that conserve the nutrients, because their business is dependent on a healthy environment, and they also want the nutrients to stay in their fields to help their crops grow. (Not to mention that the price of commercial fertilizers has risen dramatically in the recent past.)
Most of our projects involve trying a new method or technique which can be accomplished with the farmer’s existing machinery, or in some cases, additional labor. For this new project we decided to try a new method, but the technique required a piece of machinery that none of the farmers owned. With a lot of advance planning, and with the support of both the Connecticut DEP and the U.S. EPA, we worked with several farmers to select the best piece of machinery.
The machine selected was chosen for its ability to create openings in the soil which allows manure to seep into the soil quickly, verses leaving the nutrients on the surface where they can evaporate or be washed away by the first rain. Thus, running the aerator over a field before spreading manure should result in a much higher percentage of the nutrients being retained in the soil for crop growth.
The results of this project indicated that the method worked. Both runoff volume and the amount of nutrients in the runoff were reduced by significant amounts. The machines are still in use, shared by several local farmers.
ECCD has been contracting with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to investigate water quality issues and develop detailed plans to address pollution problems. These plans are known as watershed based plans (WBP), and they must follow a specific US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outline. Through the CT DEEP, ECCD has been receiving money from the EPA via section 319 of the Clean Water Act program to fund this work. Where water quality does meet CT water quality goals, DEEP is also allowed to fund anti-degradation plans in order to keep it that way. Below are summaries of current and completed projects.
French River Water Quality Investigation
The French River originates in Massachusetts and flows through Thompson, CT. Periodically, the French River has not met CT water quality standards for recreation due to high levels of E coli bacteria. Additionally, Long Branch Brook, a tributary of the French River, has also failed to meet the water quality standards due to high E. coli levels. In 2015, ECCD staff, in partnership with The Last Green Valley Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, collected water samples from the French River and multiple tributary streams throughout the watershed for bacterial analysis. As a result of the investigation, ECCD demonstrated that the French River and Long Branch Brook were meeting CT water quality standards. Other tributaries were not. ECCD will use the information to develop a French River WBP, and will also develop a stormwater improvement project in partnership with the town of Thompson to address water quality issues documented during the investigation.
Amos Lake is located in Preston, CT. Excess algae growth has reduced the recreational quality of this lake favored by boaters and sport fishermen. ECCD reviewed the historical water quality data collected from the lake, designed a water quality study and gathered new data in 2012 to develop a watershed based plan for this resource. The Amos Lake Watershed Based Plan can be downloaded here.
Flat Brook is located in the Gales Ferry area of Ledyard . This brook is not meeting water quality standards for recreation because of E. coli bacteria in the water. In 2012, ECCD staff assisted by TLGV water quality monitoring volunteers conducted a track down survey of the brook in order to determine the sources of the contamination. The Flat Brook Watershed Based Plan can be downloaded from the DEEP website.
Ekonk Brook is located in Plainfield. The brook originates at Lockes Meadow Pond in Pachaug State Forest and flows north to the Moosup River in the Moosup section of Plainfield. The stream dos not meet water quality standards for recreation due to high levels of E. coli bacteria. In 2014, ECCD staff and volunteers from The Last Green Valley Water Quality Monitoring Program conducted a bacteria trackdown in Ekonk Brook to quantify bacteria levels at various locations in Ekonk Brook and its tributary streams, and to identify potential bacteria sources. ECCD used this information to prepare a WBP for the Ekonk Brook watershed. The Ekonk Brook Watershed Based Plan can be downloaded from the DEEP website.
In 2013, ECCD staff, assisted by volunteers from TLGV's Water Quality Monitoring Program, conducted a bacteria trackdown survey of the lower Natchaug River (below Mansfield Hollow) and its main tributaries in Mansfield and Windham. The lower Natchaug River, which flows through the Town of Windham's Lauter Park, had not been meeting CT water quality standards for recreation due to periodic high levels of E. coli, leading to closures of the public swimming area at the park. ECCD staff and TLGV volunteers also conducted visual assessments called Stream Walks of the Natchaug River and two tributary streams, Sawmill and Conantville Brook, to document storm drain outfalls, trash and sediment deposits, and unusual water conditions that could indicate and/or contribute to water quality degradation. ECCD used this information to prepare a watershed based plan for the lower reach of the Natchaug River. As a result of the investigation ECCD demonstrated that the lower Natchaug River met water quality standards and the river was removed from DEEP's list of degraded water, but further study and remediation in Conantville Brook is needed. A copy of the Lower Natchaug River Watershed Based Plan will be available for download from the DEEP website.
Mount Hope River Implementation-based Watershed Planning and Developed Land BMP Matrix
The Mount Hope River is a class AA watershed located in the rural towns of Ashford and Mansfield, CT. This river does not meet the CT water quality standards for recreation due to unacceptable levels of E. coli bacteria. ECCD staff, assisted with volunteers from TLGV's volunteer water quality monitoring program conducted a bacteria track down survey, as well as a windshield survey to determine potential sources of this contamination. The Mount Hope River Implementation-based Watershed Planning and Developed Land BMP Matrix will be posted to the DEEP website in the near future.
Mashamoquet Brook is located in Pomfret, CT. Water from this brook is diverted to a swimming area in Mashamoquet Brook State Park. Water samples from the pond occasionally exceed the safe bacteria threshold limit. In 2010, ECCD investigated this situation and developed recommendations to remedy the problem.
Volunteer water quality monitoring – in cooperation with The Last Green Valley Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, the Town of Pomfret and the Northeast District Department of Health, ECCD recruited volunteers to participate in a pilot bacteria monitoring project. Volunteers helped to collect water samples weekly during the summer season. Water samples were transported to the CT State Department of Health to measure the amount of E. coli in the samples. This information was helpful to locate the potential sources of contamination going into the brook.
Reports on findings and recommendations to improve water quality can be downloaded below.
Assess the Watershed of Mashamoquet Brook Utilizing Physical Surveys and Rapid Bioassessments
Determine Pollutant and Evaluate Possible Sources
Click here to view the completed Mashamoquet Brook Watershed Based Plan.
Baker Cove, Groton, CT
Baker Cove is located in the eastern portion of the Long Island Sound inner estuary. It is bounded by Avery Point and the tip of Pine Island, to the mouth of the Poquonuck River south of the Groton-New London Airport. This cove is located at the City of Groton/Town of Groton border. Occasionally the shellfish beds in the area need to be closed due to bacteria exceeding the safe threshold for direct consumption, especially after it rains. ECCD investigated this urban watershed and developed recommendations to remedy this problem.
Many volunteers assisted with the collection of visual assessment data along the cove shore, Birch Plain Creek and its tributaries. The information collected was drafted into an abbreviated watershed based plan for the watershed. Additional information contributed from local stakeholders was also incorporated into the final plan. Click here to view the final Watershed Based Plan for Baker Cove.
Spaulding Pond is located in Mohegan Park in Norwich, CT. Water samples from the pond occasionally exceed the safe bacteria threshold limit for swimming. ECCD staff, with the assistance of students from Kelly Middle School and the Uncas Health District collected data to determine the most probable sources of contamination impacting this pond.
An abbreviated watershed based plan has been prepared and submitted to the CT DEEP. Click here to view the final Watershed Based Plan for Spaulding Pond.
Little River/Muddy Brook/Roseland Lake
The Little River watershed extends from the Quinebaug River in Putnam through Woodstock, CT and into Massachusetts. In 2009, ECCD completed a watershed investigation of five different impaired segments and drafted a watershed based plan for this rural watershed. Click here to view the final Watershed Based Plan for Little River/Muddy Brook/Roseland Lake.
These projects were supported in part by US EPA Clean Water Act grants funded through the CT DEEP.
ECCD awarded a grant to facilitate the development of a Conservation Action Plan for Poquetanuck Cove
Poquetanuck Cove is a two mile long brackish water cove of the Thames River. It is located between the towns of Ledyard and Preston, CT. It is the best preserved tidal cove ecosystem remaining along the Thames River. Although much of the cove shoreline is protected open space owned by the CT DEEP, The Nature Conservancy or Avalonia Land Conservancy, there still remain significant threats to this fragile environment.
During the Conservation Action Planning Process, key stakeholders from both towns and conservation professionals were brought together to identify the highest value conservation features of the cove, indentify the threats to those features and finally, recommend actions necessary to address those threats. From this process, the Poquetanuck Cove Conservation Action Plan was developed. On August 27, 2013 the Mayor John Rodolico of Ledyard and Bob Congdon, First Selectman of Preston, signed an Intermunicipal Agreement to support the Poquetanuck Cove Conservation Action Plan in a signing ceremony at the newly renamed William R. Haase IV car top boat launch located on Poquetanuck Cove at the end of Royal Oaks Drive in Ledyard, CT.
Poquetanuck Cove location map
Poquetanuck Cove Opinion Survey Summary
In addition to the three working group sessions, ECCD will also be organizing helpful workshops:
- Low Impact Development - a workshop for municipal officials
- Home and Garden Best Management Practices
- Climate Change Adaptation Tools
Watch the calendar page for workshop dates and other details.
This project is supported in part by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant as part of the Long Island Sound Study.
The Last Green Valley Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program
Through a cooperative agreement with The Last Green Valley, Inc, ECCD Watershed Conservation Coordinator, Jean Pillo coordinates a water quality monitoring program for volunteers in the 35 towns of the Quinebaug-Shetucket Rivers National Heritage Corridor. Volunteers are provided with free training and equipment.
The Troll Users Group
Volunteers are trained and organized into teams that collect data monthly using an In-situ Troll 9500 multi-parameter probe with a hand held microprocessor. This instrument provides information on the water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen content, turbidity and conductivity. The data is used to establish a baseline of water quality or to identify areas of concern.
Monitoring efforts are underway in the French River, the Five Mile River and the upper Quinebaug River as well as South Charlton Reservoir and Webster Lake. We hope to expand this project into more main stem regional rivers as the program grows.
Stream Walk Teams
Volunteers are trained and organized to collect visual assessment data on current in-stream conditions, which recorded onto a data sheet designed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The data provides important information related to potential water quality issues or aquatic habitat concerns.
Volunteers note plant and algae growth, storm water outfalls, fish passage barriers and the condition of the bottom sediments and streamside vegetative cover.
Volunteers are trained to collect and identify stream invertebrates which can be excellent indicators of water quality. Voucher samples are provided to the CT DEP and used as part of their biannual water quality assessment report.
An average wadable stream can be assessed in about 2 hours. Consider "adopting" your local stream and check its ability to support fish and other aquatic life annually.
Volunteers are trained to collect water samples that will be analyzed for concentrations of E. coli bacteria. The samples are analyzed by the CT Department of Public Health. Not all E. coli is harmful, but its presence in the water indicates the water has been contaminated with fecal material and therefore, there may be may be harmful pathogens in the water. This type of monitoring takes place in the summer during the beach bathing season. Samples are collected once a week for 8 weeks.
Using a LaMotte Smart2 Colorimeter, volunteers are trained to analyze water samples for certain types of plant nutrients including Nitrate-Nitrogen and ortho-Phosphorus. These nutrients, when in excess in aquatic environments, support excessive weed and algal growth.
Water Temperature Profiling
With HOBO brand temperature monitoring devices, volunteers will gather important water temperature data to share with fisheries mananagement folks. These devices will be deployed in spring and collected in autumn.
Would you like to become a water quality monitoring volunteer? Contact Jean Pillo at 860-928-4948 for more information.
Niantic River Watershed Coordinator
The Niantic River Watershed is located within four towns: Salem, Montville, Waterford, and East Lyme. The Niantic River is an estuary. Fresh water drains from a small coastal watershed to a tidal embayment where fresh water mixes with the salt water of Long Island Sound. Many people relate to the Niantic River as a body of saltwater that provides access to the Sound and to a rich variety of marine resources. Others make connections to local freshwater streams and ponds through recreational activities such as fishing and swimming. For citizens of Waterford, including Quaker Hill, and New London, the freshwater resources in the watershed provide drinking water to 13,000 homes andbusinesses.
The Niantic River is currently not meeting the Department of Environmental Protection’s water quality standards. It is not supporting aquatic life known to inhabit the estuary in the past. Symptoms of this condition include, algal blooms, seasonal variations in eelgrass populations, loss of scallop populations and changes to the fish communities. The leading suspected cause of the impairment is non-point source pollution.
The CT DEP has given ECCD a grant to coordinate the Niantic River Watershed Working Groups and the four towns involved with the Niantic River to implement the Niantic River Watershed Protection Plan done in 2006. Public support is always necessary to ensure that the recommendations of the protection plan are implemented. To find out more information about the plan, its watershed, the Niantic River Watershed Working Groups, and what you can do in your own backyard, check out the Niantic River Watershed Website.
Hallville Fishway, Preston, CT
Live webcam viewing available. Click on the Alewife.
After many years of permitting, easement gathering and grant writing, the ribbon cutting for the completed Hallville Fishway took place on May 2, 2013. The installation of this fishway immediately restored Hallville Pond as an alewife breeding grounds. "The founding alewife entered the Hallville headpond @ 1:21AM on April 11, after successfully ascending the new Hallville Fishway. It was quickly followed by a few more," according to Tim Wildman of CT DEEP Fisheries. This fishway will eventually lead to additional 9 miles of riverine breeding habitat for other migratory fish. These fish live their adult life in the Atlantic Ocean and migrate to freshwater streams to spawn.
Andrew Tate Memorial Fund
Donations made to the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District in memory of Andrew Tate of Norwich, CT are helping to support the installation of a special video camera system at the Hallville Fishway. This video camera has been set up in an underground chamber with a viewing window below the water level. Live viewing of the fish as they swim by will be possible from a link on the ECCD website in spring during their migration period. An announcement will be posted on the ECCD Facebook page when the fishway reopens each spring. ECCD wishes once again to thank the family and friends of Andrew Tate for establishing and contributing to this worthwhile cause in Andrew’s memory. Contributions are still being accepted.
Roseland Lake Nutrients Loads Modeling Project
Roseland Lake is located in Woodstock, CT. The lake is in the Little River sub-regional watershed which drains into the Quinebaug River in Putnam, CT. Between Roseland Lake and the Quinebaug River, the Town of Putnam withdraws and treats water from Little River to use as a public drinking water source.
Roseland Lake and several stream segments in Little River watershed are not meeting Connecticut water quality standards. ECCD staff investigated possible causes and prepared a watershed based plan to address those issues in 2009. One recommendation of the plan was to study the sources of nutrients impacting water quality in Roseland Lake and determine how much of the water quality issues were from current watershed runoff, and how much was influenced by legacy nutrients deposited in the lake over a long time period.
In the summer months, when water in the the lake is warmer at the surface, the lake develops temperature layers. Colder water in the bottom of the lake becomes anoxic, or has no dissolved oxygen in it. When this happens, it shifts the chemistry at the bottom the lake and nutrients normally stored in the lake sediments dissolve into the water. Are these nutrients the a major source of summer algae blooms in the lake?
Beginning in 2015, ECCD staff, with assistance of volunteers from The Last Green Valley Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, began collecting and analysing water samples from the lake and the streams that flow into it. We are investigating if the nutrients from the bottom of the lake are suppporting algae blooms at the surface. Algae blooms degrade the habitat in the lake as well as increase the cost of water treatment downstream. There are algae that make the water taste and smell bad. Certain algae may also release toxins into the water.
The data we are collecting will be used in a mathematical model to calculate the watershed versus the in-lake nutrient contributions to the algae problems in Roseland Lake. Once the major sources of nutrients are identified, ECCD will develop plans to effectively reduce those sources of nutrients.
This project is being funded in part by an US EPA Clean Water Act section 319 grant thought the CT DEEP and the Putnam Water Pollution Control Authority. Additional project partners include the CT Department of Public Health Drinking Water Division, Dr. Mauri Pelto of Nichols College, the Woodstock Conservation Commission and CME Associates.
A review of previous water quality studies in Roseland Lake was compiled and submitted to CT DEEP. Click here to download this report.
A workshop focused on algae control in lakes took place on April 6, 2016. Click here to download a workshop agenda.
Bottom sediment sampling was a required element of this project to be able to measure the legacy load of phosphorus available for recyling in the lake during summer anoxic conditions. Photodocumentation and the report of the results are available here.
ECCD staff, with assistance from volunteers with The Last Green Valley Water Quality monitoring program have completed the water quality sampling work in Roseland Lake and the tributaries that flow into the lake. This includes sampling the bottom sediments to determine the amount of legacy phosphorus stored in the sediments. The process of data review is currently ongoing. A draft report of the Roseland Lake Management Plan is anticipated for early spring 2017.
Mashamoquet Brook Septic Tank Upgrade Project
In 2011, ECCD staff concluded a water quality study of the Mashamoquet Brook watershed, and wrote a Water Quality Improvement Plan. The Mashamoquet Brook watershed is mostly located in Pomfret, but includes parts of Brooklyn, Woodstock and Eastford. This was necessary after the water quality in the swimming area at Mashamoquet Brook State Park failed to meet safe water quality for recreation by Connecticut Water Quality Standards. The water in the engineered swimming area comes from Mashamoquet Brook. ECCD, with assistance of volunteers from The Last Green Valley Water Quality Monitoring Program surveyed the watershed and collected water samples to be tested for E. coli bacteria. At the conclusion of the study, the results showed that Mashamoquet Brook beginning at Covell Road and all the way to the Quinebaug River did not meet state standards. Abington Brook and White Brook also failed to meet the state standards.
Based on the investigation, it was concluded that it was highly likely that failing septic systems from older homes along the streams could be a contributing source of this bacteria. The average life span of a well maintained septic system is not indefinate. Many of these homes date back to the 1800s.
ECCD applied for and was awarded funding from a US EPA Clean Water Act section 319 grant through the CT DEEP to address this issue. The goals for this project are to educate all the homeowners in the watershed about the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems, how to identify a problem that needs to be addressed and possible funding sources to help play for the expenses. This one time grant will also be able to provide a $2000 rebate to homeowners in priority areas along the streams if they replace their septic system before August 30, 2018. Links to the Mashamoquet, Abington and White Brook priority areas are below. If you home is in one of the priority areas, it does not mean your septic system is failing, but if your septic system is failing and you live in these areas, you are eligible for the rebate if your system is replaced.
A free workshop on septic tank care and maintenace will be held on April 12, 2016. This workshop is co-sponsored by the Pomfret Conservation Commission. All are welcome. A free gift will provided if you complete and return our ECCD Septic Tank Survey.
Priority maps for the Mashamoquet Septic Tank Upgrade Project
Abington Brook Priority Map
Mashamoquet Brook Area 1 Priority Map
Mashamoquet Brook Area 2 Priority Map
White Brook Area 1 Priority Map
White Brook Area 2 Priority Map
PowerPoint explaining the Mashamoquet Brook Septic System Upgrades project
PowerPoint Can You Flush This? Information on what is and isn't safe to flush into your septic system.
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales. Through the program, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas. Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved.
Thames River Basin Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Under the RCPP, ECCD is assisting The Last Green Valley by providing technical assistance to engage agricultural producers in the Thames River Basin and to enlist them in implementing conservation practices that will improve soil health and water quality.
In addition, EQIP funding is reserved for farmers interested in using diverse cover crops, no-till methods, and other conservation practices to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion. This can be measured through a voluntary program to install edge-of-field stormwater runoff collection boxes. Click here for more information about the Thames River basin RCPP. It is funded in part by NRCS through USDA RCPP program grant.
The Last Green Valley (TLGV) was recently awarded $6,144,000 through the NRCS RCPP program for Accelerating the Pace of Conservation in the Southern New England Heritage Forest. The Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF) is a uniquely-positioned forest corridor stretching north along the Connecticut and Rhode Island border to the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. Spanning the shared borders of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most densely populated states in the country, SNEHF contains 68 towns and covers 1.49 million acres, of which a remarkable 76% still remains in forest and high-priority forested wildlife habitat. Between 2011 and 2017, federal and non-profit organizations conducted extensive forest landowner outreach in this region, establishing an informed network of “Woodland Ambassadors” and educated and engaged landowners interested in improving and conserving their forested properties. This SNEHF project will connect these forest landowners, who would not traditionally interact with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, with NRCS programs and services. A remarkable partnership of non-profit organizations and regional, state and municipal agencies will offer private woodland owners a suite of NRCS tools for sound management and forestry conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and permanent protection through easements under the Healthy Forests Reserve Program. This project will serve as a “conservation pipeline” of forest and bird habitat plans, EQIP practices and HFRP easements on private forestlands in order to accelerate the pace of conservation in SNEHF. For more information, please contact TLGV.
Path to Reduce Pathogens in CT Agricultural Runoff
The University of Connecticut (UCONN) is preparing to kick off their Path to Reduce Pathogens in CT Agricultural Runoff project. This $669,000 NRCS RCPP project will focus on bacteria levels in Connecticut’s rivers and shellfish beds in which they unacceptably high. This is, in part, caused by agricultural runoff. To address soil and water quality degradation, ten conservation partners will collaborate to achieve the objectives of the project: University of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, The Last Green Valley, Inc., CT Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, CT Sea Grant, Stonington Shellfish Commission, CUSH, Inc. (Clean Up Sound & Harbors), the Thames River Partnership, UConn Extension, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Project objectives include:
1. develop conservation partnerships focused on reducing pathogens associated with agricultural activities;
2. identify and target critical areas for treatment approaches;
3. encourage adoption of conservation practices that reduce pathogen export from agricultural areas to streams and shellfish beds;
4. identify the opportunities for and barriers to producers and landowners in adopting pathogen conservation practices and evaluate the success of the project.
Potential conservation practices to reduce pathogens will include composting, nutrient management, residue and tillage management, cover crops, fencing, buffers and filter strips, vegetated treatment areas and wetlands. This project will incorporate cutting-edge research tools that will allow for the identification of species-specific DNA markers. This will allow the source of E. coli to be determined by which species contributed it, which in turn will focus remediation efforts where they are most needed. Jack Clausen of UCONN is the project lead for this project.
French River Water Quality Investigation
The French River originates in Massachusetts and flows through Thompson, CT where it empties into the Quinebaug River. Periodically, the French River has not met CT water quality standards for recreation due to high levels of E. coli bacteria. Additionally, Long Branch Brook, a tributary of the French River, has also failed to meet CT water quality standards due to high E. coli levels. In 2015, ECCD staff, in partnership with The Last Green Valley Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, collected water samples from the French River and multiple tributary streams throughout the watershed for bacteria analysis. As a result of the investigation, ECCD demonstrated that the French River and Long Branch Brook met water quality standards in 2015, but some of the tributaries did not. To download a copy of the water quality monitoring results, click here.
ECCD is using this information to develop a French River Watershed Based Plan, and is also planning a stormwater improvement project in partnership with the Town of Thompson to address water quality issues documented during the investigation. Click here to review the priority stormwater restoration report.