Restoring the PCB-Damaged Housatonic River Basin

HARTFORD, Connecticut, December 23, 2007 (ENS) – The recommended “short list” of proposals to restore natural resources in Connecticut’s Housatonic River Basin was issued last week, bringing accomplishment of the actual restoration one step closer.

After months of sorting through 92 proposals, the Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil for Connecticut presented a list of 31 proposals for funding acquired in a settlement with General Electric, GE, in 1999.

The settlement included $7.5 million for projects in Connecticut aimed at restoring, rehabilitating or acquiring the equivalent of the natural resources and recreational uses of the Housatonic River that were injured by the release of PCBs from the General Electric facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

That fund has now grown to just over $9 million.

The total cost of the 31 proposals on the short list is estimated at around $12.5 million. This is $3.5 million more than the approximately $9 million in grant money that is available.

Eight of the 31 proposals deal with aquatic natural resources, nine address riparian and floodplain resources, and 15 are to enhance recreational services.

The proposals on the short list will now undergo further detailed analysis by a consultant who will make an even shorter list that will fit within the available funding.

Connecticut’s Housatonic
River (Photo courtesy
Housatonic River Basin)

The total request in the aquatic category is $1,942,354.

The most expensive item on the Aquatic Natural Resources grant short list is the Trout Unlimited Salmon Kill Restoration and Enhancement $617,260.

This would enhance the riparian corridors and instream habitat of 1.8 miles of Salmon Kill Creek by installing instream habitat structures, stabilizing streambanks, and increasing the vegetation in the riparian buffer.

The next most costly Blackberry River Fish Passage Restoration $500,000.

Connecticut DEP Inland Fisheries proposes to modify two dams to provide unobstructed fish passage in the Blackberry River. A bypass channel would be created around Lower Pond Dam and an unnamed adjacent dam would be breached.

The proposed project could significantly improve habitat for Burbot, a state-listed endangered species, and provide high, sustainable ecological and recreational benefits. Unobstructed fish passage would be restored to nine miles of the Blackberry River. Fish passage will be sustainable without need for human intervention following construction

Also on the short list for a Aquatic Natural Resources grant is the Transylvania Brook Culvert Crossing at East Flat Hill Road estimated at $480,000.

This project proposes to replace a perched twin pipe culvert that prevents fish passage and to stabilize stream embankments directly upstream from the culverts that are currently experiencing a significant erosion problem.

The use of these funds is the responsibility of the Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil for Connecticut, known as the Connecticut SubCouncil.

This body includes members from the natural resource trustees from the state of Connecticut, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In addition, the commissioner of environmental protection formed the Connecticut Trustee’s Advisory Group to provide the DEP with input from specific regional interest groups including recreational, environmental, planning and governmental organizations.

The short list of proposals can be found on the project website [].

The public will have until January 4, 2008 to submit written comments regarding the recommended short list. Comments should be sent to: Laura Fontanella, DEP/IFD, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106. Verbal comments on the report will be accepted at the January 22, 2008 public meeting at 7:00 p.m. at Kent Town Hall.

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