NEW BRITAIN - A state environmental council has concluded that the Tilcon mining proposal would be “adverse” and that a study of the plan doesn’t establish the need for a new reservoir.
Mayor Erin Stewart was forwarded the comments by the state Council on Environmental Quality Friday, her aide said. “We are in receipt of CEQ’s comments and look forward to a robust public discussion about the proposal to build a regional water supply for Central Connecticut,” said David Huck, the mayor’s public affairs specialist.
Under the hotly contested proposal, Tilcon is seeking approval to mine 131 acres of protected watershed that acts as a tributary to Shuttle Meadow Reservoir, for 40 years. At the end of the mining, the quarry would be returned to the city as a “storage” reservoir.
A similar plan was quashed by opponents in 2007. In order to get approval to allow Tilcon to mine the protected watershed, the city was required to hire an engineering firm to study the environmental impact of the plan.
The Glastonbury-based Lenard Engineering submitted its study to the CEQ and the state Water Planning Council for review in February. Both agencies are required to submit comments about the study to the city of New Britain.
The CEQ’s comments, forwarded to Stewart in an 11-page report, largely pan the Tilcon proposal. “Needless to say, the project itself is contrary to long-established state policy of not allowing the intrusion of commercial activities onto Class I and Class II reservoir watershed lands as protection of water quality for drinking water sources,” the council said.
Among the major concerns expressed by the CEQ, Lenard failed to make the case that the city needs a “storage” reservoir for future water reserves and the council pointed out that the project would decrease the city’s water supply as the mining proceeds.
“During construction, the (Lenard’s) report projects a reduction of safe yield of 70,000 gallons per day, from a project that is being promoted as a strategy to reduce risk of water shortages,” the CEQ noted.
The agency also pointed out that Lenard failed to include three additional water sources, Patton Brook Well, a property in Burlington acquired for the development of a reservoir,r and nearby Crescent Lake, which is a decommissioned reservoir, in their assessment of what the city can readily use for additional drinking water supplies.
Council members also called into question the method of “flood skimming” from surface storm water runoff to fill the new reservoir, “which is among the dirtiest of water sources and carries the risk of high treatment costs,” they said.
Lenard’s study also failed to indicate mitigation practices that could be used to protect wildlife and plant life in the area and provided “misleading” information by saying additional watershed would be created by the “hole that is being dug in the middle of currently existing watershed land,” the council said.
The city must hold a public hearing on the findings of the CEQ and the WPC.
To view a copy of the CEQ report on the study, visit www.ct.gov/ceq/site/default.asp .