DEEP: Officials Finalize Projects for Connecticut’s Second Round of Housatonic River Settlement Funds

August 20, 2013
 
 
Officials Finalize Projects for Connecticut’s Second Round of Housatonic River Settlement Funds
 
Projects added in Watertown, Seymour, Milford, and Stratford
 

Environmental officials have chosen seven fish habitat and marsh restoration projects to fund with $2 million from the 1999 Housatonic River settlement. The projects are outlined and evaluated in documents released today by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Projects are expected to begin this summer.
 
 “We’ve enjoyed remarkable success restoring natural resources and providing new recreational opportunities in the Housatonic watershed in Connecticut, and are gratified to have the opportunity to fund additional projects that will further accomplish these goals”, said Rick Jacobson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director and Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil member.
 
Several projects will increase habitat for migratory fish, such as river herring; one through the removal of the Pinshop dam in Watertown and another via construction of a bypass channel to facilitate fish movement around the Tingue Dam on the Naugatuck River in Seymour. Several marsh restoration projects in Milford and Stratford are expected to improve estuarine wildlife habitat. Finally, an analysis of barriers to fish passage at road crossings will be conducted in the upper watershed to identify opportunities to improve stream connectivity through culvert replacement.
 
 “We look forward to working with our partners and getting these restoration projects underway,” said Service Field Office Supervisor Tom Chapman. “Through collaboration with the Housatonic Valley Association, the Housatonic Fish and Game Club, state and federal agencies, and a local business, we will improve wildlife habitat in the Watershed.” 
 
“This aquatic specific funding of watershed restoration projects will nicely fit with the earlier recreation and riparian projects that are on their way or already completed” said Ken Finkelstein, NOAA Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil member.
 
Funding comes from a 1999 settlement with General Electric that included $7.75 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 GE facility in Pittsfield, Mass. Settlement funds grew to more than $9 million in an interest-bearing fund.
 
The allocation of these funds is the responsibility of the Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil for Connecticut, which is composed of the natural resource trustees from the State of Connecticut and the federal Department of the Interior, through the Service, and Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 
The original restoration plan, released in July 2009, awarded funding for 27 projects including about $2.8 million for riparian and floodplain natural resources, $2.6 million for recreational use of natural resources, and $1.7 million for aquatic natural resources.
 
Documents released today include the Amendment to the Housatonic River Basin Final Natural Resources Restoration Plan, Environmental Assessment, and Environmental Impact Evaluation for Connecticut. The Amendment is available at DEEP Eastern District Headquarters, 209 Hebron Road, Marlborough, CT 06447 and may also be found on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website at www.ct.gov/deep/naturalresources.  You may also link to it from the EPA’s GE/Housatonic River site website http://www.epa.gov/region1/ge