What Is Happening?
Aquarion Water Company has submitted an application for a water diversion permit to the The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). They have a well site approved in the 1980’s, but until now, it has not been used. They are now applying to request permission to begin using it. The DEEP requires a permit for any consumptive water diversion over 50,000 gallons per 24-hour period. Aquarion Water Company has applied to divert 1,000,000 gallons per day from a well on Cannondale Rd. in Wilton, CT. The Town of Wilton is in its early phases of gathering facts in order to understand if this is a sustainable action by Aquarion, seeking council from lawyers and environmental experts alike.
By The Numbers
In 1984, a 90-day well test was performed deducing that 1.5 million gallons per day could be pumped from the well sustainably, but there are questions about whether the test is outdated and many are concerned about long-term consequences. Research shows that the average U.S. household uses 138 gallons per day. If you take the town of Wilton as an example, there are about 6,000 households, some of which are on city water. If you estimate that ⅔ of the town is on well-water that means that the town is using about HALF of what the water company would take out of this aquifer in a day.
What This Means For Local Properties, Ecosystems And The Environment
Over-exploitation of the aquifer is a large concern in this case. Water is typically a renewable resource, but when an aquifer is over-exploited it can permanently damage the source leading to pollution of the water with nitrates or subsidence which can decrease aquifer capacity. These harmful pollutants further contaminate local water sources and habitats. The damage can be permanent and substantial.
The town of Wilton is conducting its own research to discover exactly how impactful and detrimental this project has the capacity to be. The impact of the diversion may be most notable in these areas:
It could negatively affect the life cycle of aquatic life in the Norwalk River including trout spawning
It could potentially have an effect on private wells
There is a notable pocket of White River Crayfish at Goetzen Brook whose life cycle could be negatively affected
Aquarion’s proposal includes mitigation plans such as periods of time when no pumping will occur, monthly monitoring of surface and groundwater levels, annual survey of vernal pool breeding, etc. Though these numbers and studies seem to provide a semblance of positivity, the overarching issue of whether the diversion can have an everlasting impact on the environment is looming.
We should all resolve to get better educated on this issue and follow it’s progress. Today it is a well in Wilton, but tomorrow it could be in your town. We should be active in keeping our local government accountable for making environmentally sound decisions and fighting for what’s right when necessary.