Environmental Accomplishments of the Past 40 Years
Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act Enacted
In 1972 the Connecticut General Assembly adopted the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act to protect these fragile natural resources. This law enabled the state to provide an orderly process to balance the need for the economic growth and the use of its land with the need to protect its environment for future generations. Connecticut is one of 16 other states that have enacted a law to protect this valuable resource.
Prior to passage of this law, valuable and sensitive inland wetlands and watercourses in Connecticut were largely unprotected, which left them vulnerable to damage or destruction. This was occurring through deposition, filling or removal of material, the diversion or obstruction of water flow, the erection of structures and other uses, which despoiled, polluted and eliminated wetlands and watercourses.
The threat to these wetlands and watercourses was a significant environmental issue because these resources form an interrelated web of nature essential to an adequate supply of surface and underground water; to hydrological stability and control of flooding and erosion; to the recharging and purification of groundwater; and to the existence of many forms of animal, aquatic and plant life.
As a result of the 1972 law, Connecticut now has 170 local Inland Wetland Agencies that regulate activities near inland wetlands and watercourses in their own towns, with guidance from DEP. Since 1996 the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has provided a comprehensive annual training program for Inland Wetland Agencies to assist local officials with implementation of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act. In 2005 DEP released a video program entitled “Introduction: Connecticut’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Act” to help new municipal inland wetlands agency commissioners and staff understand their role in regulating wetlands and watercourses in Connecticut..
The DEP has collected data since 1990 on regulated activities concerning wetlands and watercourses and have documented a significant decline in wetland alterations and impacts. As a result of the law and the DEP training program, Connecticut has become a no-net loss state which is both due to an increasing amount of wetlands mitigation and a reduction in impacted wetlands.