PWA Hosts Open House Feb.11,2017
On Sat., Feb.11, PWA welcomed an enthusiastic audience to learn about the work we do and to see the latest version of “Our Sole Source,” our film about protecting water quality in Newtown and beyond. To read an article on the open house, published by The Newtown Bee, click here.
The following article appeared in the Newtown Bee, February 27, 2016
Project Aimed at Protecting Trout Habitat
by Andrew Gorosko
The Pootatuck Watershed Association (PWA), a private nonprofit environmental protection group, is planning a project to improve water quality and restore wild trout habitat in local trout streams, including the Pootatuck River and its tributary Deep Brook.
PWA President Sarah Middeleer said this week that PWA has received a $40,000 grant from a private foundation to restore local wild trout habitat. The foundation that made the donation wishes to remain anonymous, Ms Middeleer said.
“The PWA has mobilized with other local groups to plan its course of action,” she said.
The association is working with volunteer members of Trout Unlimited’s Candlewood Valley Chapter, and others, in planning the habitat improvement project, she said. The nonprofit Trout Unlimited works to protect coldwater fisheries.
Also, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has provided advice on the project, she said.
The improvement work will center on DEEP’s designated Wild Trout Management Area, comprised by portions of the Pootatuck River and Deep Brook, according to Ms Middeleer. The are several such management areas in the state intended to keep wild trout reproducing.
The wild trout population in Deep Brook has been particularly hard hit in the last 12 years, due to two heating oil spills at Fairfield Hills and at least one toxic release there, Ms Middeleer said.
That toxic release caused in a fish kill in lower Deep Brook. That brook section is downstream of the points where the stormwater and the groundwater discharged from Fairfield Hills enters Deep Brook. The exact cause of that fish kill was never determined, according to PWA.
After PWA members determine the specific trout habitat problems that need to be resolved, work plans would be formulated.
Trout habitat improvements may include creating streambank revetments and also making buffer plantings along streambanks. Also, certain physical improvements may be made to trout refuge areas and to spawning beds.
Before improvements occur, the PWA would analyze scientific data collected on the area during the past decade to identify specific trout habitat problems.
Ms Middeleer said the PWA has been working with First Selectman Pat Llodra and various town departments since last summer on measures to improve drainage flow from Fairfield Hills and to prevent any further damage to Deep Brook.
Ms Middeleer said that many volunteers would be needed to perform the trout habitat improvement project. She said that people interested in volunteering may reach the PWA via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pootatuck Watershed Association is pleased to announce Citizen River Watch. This program urges recreational users of local trails to call Newtown Communications in the event of “unusual occurrences” in or along our watercourses and wetlands. Signs have been installed in several locations along the Pootatuck River and Deep Brook (more signs in other locations are on the way), providing information on what kinds of circumstances to note, the phone number to call, and the geographic coordinates indicating the location of each sign.
If someone should see or smell something of concern, such as numerous dead fish, hazardous waste, obvious discoloration of water, foul odor, foam, oil sheen, dumping, etc., he or she can call Dispatch (203-270-4200), report the condition, and provide the coordinates of the nearest sign. Once the call has come in, Newtown Communications will contact the Land Use department (during business hours) or members of the PWA board (during other times), and someone will go to the site to assess the damage, collect samples if pertinent, and notify CT DEEP or other authorities if necessary.
The Citizen River Watch program was initiated by Joe Hovious, PWA vice president, Robert Cedergren, a police captain with Aquarion Water Company police, and Robert’s son Gunnar. Maureen Will, Director of Newtown Emergency Communications, and Kevin O’Connell, Newtown GIS specialist, also took part in the planning. Gunnar Cedergren designed the sign, patiently working with the PWA board through many revisions and comments. He also went out recently with Mr. Hovious to install signs. More signs will be installed as landowner permissions come in. Using his dad’s portable GPS unit, Gunnar made labels with the coordinates and a location number for each sign. Once the signs are all installed, he will create a spreadsheet with this information to give to the Newtown GIS department, where the locations can be added to the town’s database.
Gunnar is a a lifelong Sandy Hook resident. He learned to fly fish about six years ago and came to love the local watercourses as a result. “Once I learned how to fish and got out on the rivers, I saw how beautiful they are and how nice it is to spend time there,” he recalled. During the time since graduation, Gunnar has, in addition to job hunting, volunteered for the Candlewood Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited and for the Pootatuck Watershed Association. “Joining these groups and helping to keep our water clean has been a really good experience for me,” Gunnar said. Mr. Hovious remarked, “In the recent past there have been questions from residents regarding whom to notify about incidents along the town’s streams.”
The River Watch program provides an opportunity for Newtown residents and others who enjoy our waters to help monitor and protect the health of this critical resource. The new signs provide an easy alert number to call and help to locate an issue should one arise. The Pootatuck Watershed Association extends its thanks to the volunteers and town staff who made this program possible.