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Simsbury Selectmen 'Troubled' by Proposed Water Diversion, Extension Requested

The Simsbury Board of Selectmen have requested a 30-day extension on the public comment deadline for a proposed MDC water diversion.

A letter drafted by the Simsbury Board of Selectmen and sent to the University of Conn. Office of Environmental Policy voiced strong opposition to both a proposed Metropolitan District Commission water diversion and the process under which the proposal is being considered. The board also requested a 30-day extension on the public comment period for the proposal.

Following a meeting Monday night, the board of selectmen approved a letter, signed by First Selectman Mary Glassman, that expressed the board's frustration with a proposed pipeline that would sap approximately 1.93 million gallons of water daily from the Farmington Valley.

In June 2011 the town of Mansfield and UCONN initiated an Environmental Impact Evaluation, prepared by Milone & MacBroom, to determine the best possible resolution to their increasingly diminished water supply.

Of the two proposed MDC pipeline scenarios, the company's preferred scenario would be a 20-mile pipeline that would cost approximately $38.33 million and would add the potential for a new customer base in the towns of Tolland, Vernon, Mansfield, South Windsor, and Coventry. A second proposed pipleline could cost as much as $51 million, according to the proposal.

The proposal estimates that the pipeline could divert as much as 1.93 million gallons from the Farmington River basin every day.

"The proposal would go against Connecticut’s wise and long-held policy against interbasin transfers of water," Glassman said in the letter.

Public comment on the EIE is currently open until Dec. 21, 2012 and a public hearing was held on Tuesday Dec. 11 in Storrs, Conn. Simsbury officials said the process has not adequately included the towns in the Farmington Valley which stand to lose the most from the proposed water diversion.

"We and our neighboring towns did not receive any direct notice that a proposal of such importance to the Farmington Valley was under consideration.  No hearings were scheduled in our area," the letter said.

Letters of opposition to the project have been sent by other local organizations including the Lower Farmington River/Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic Study Commission and the Town of Simsbury Conservation Commission. The Canton Board of Selectmen planned to discuss the matter during their Wednesday night meeting.

The wild and scenic study commission letter suggests the Milone and MacBroom report was based on data that is nearly 20 years old.

"The steam flow study was done between 1989 and 1992 and was based on conditions in the Farmington River between 1970 and 1990," the letter said.  "Because the stream flow study is over 20 years old and was primarily focused on only part of the river, its conclusions cannot be relied on to justify a diversion today."

The letter also cites an article that appeared on Simsbury Patch in September that documented a tough summer season on the Farmington River when water levels were low and temperatures were high.

A petition is also being cirulated by the Farmington River Watershed Association in effort to stop the proposed water diversion from the valley's water basin.

Eileen Fielding, excecutive director for the FRWA, said the long-term implications of the diversion could be devestating to an already taxed water basin.

The Simsbury board of selectmen requested a 30-day extension on the public comment period and that a public hearing be scheduled in the Farmington Valley after the holidays.

"We are eager to reason with other affected parties on the best way to meet UCONN's needs on an economical and environmentally sustainable basis," the Simsbury selectmen letter said.

Patch will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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Robert Kalechman December 13, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Here we go again a day late and a pound short the state and it rivers to the namely The Connecticut to the North have a plan and .has been testing this all along looking for federal funds when you change a water system you change the flow and could change the course.This should of been done years ago but like I have said all along the Good Old Boys and girls come first ask around Simsbury about Simsbury and it Water Company we have the M.D C just over the mountain but the town made a deal down State ask about the deal and how it was made and who the players were it a little late people what did the Roman General say as he cross an other river call the Rubicon" the dye is cast".
Thomas E. Brown December 13, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Maybe the need for water in the towns of Tolland County that require the water have been impacted by the pollution of the aquifer with chemical toxins released by U-Conn Storrs. If there is a shortage of water in those areas, than the economic development has reached the limit of the ability of the environment to support it which is in part to bad stewardship. To reach into another area's environmental resource without compensation is like environmental socialism. Are the recipients of Farmington River Water going compensate me, lower my taxes or is the profit going to be exported to pad the pockets of bureaucrats and water utility operators? Is how the definition of sustainable growth works? The bike path doesn't even extend to the Greenwalk and you want to give them our water.
Robert Kalechman December 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Wake up and smell the coffee Simsbury tax payers when have you ever been given a tax break by the Democratic party or it leaders we have a democratic state government and we just voted to sent another democratic to the legislature from Simsbury and he is a big tax and spender from the manor born here again we have the good old boys welfare system paid for with tax dollars from the cradle to the grave. and you and I pay the bills this is a done deal wake up again Simsbury
Tom Moore December 13, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Speaking of losing control over local water resources, not so many years ago the Town of Simsbury had an opportunity to purchase the local water company but passed on it. Then, when the Simsbury Fire District attempted to prevent the sale to a U.K. owned company, the first selectman and others in her party fought to prevent the District from interferring with the sale. Many wish that the current first selectman and her party displayed as much rage then as she, appropriately, is now.

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