The Town of Bethel has entered into an agreement with Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut to sell the Bethel Water Department. This deal was approved by Bethel’s Town Public Utilities Commission, Board of Selectman, and Board of Finance, and is set to go to a voter referendum later this summer. Under the agreement, Aquarion is allowed, and has stated that it intends, to abandon the Chestnut Ridge, Eureka Lake, and Mountain Pond reservoirs and transfer over 290 acres of valuable open space back to the Town of Bethel, unencumbered by water company lands regulations that protect against overdevelopment.
We’re concerned that this exposes the lands to intensive development that would impair the integrity of the drinking supply and destroy the natural environment. One critical component of drinking water protection is prevention by using the natural and undeveloped land as a natural filter, trapping sediment, chemicals and other pollutants before reaching the drinking water supply. These undeveloped watershed parcels should be preserved in perpetuity while also allowing true passive recreational uses, like hiking and fishing.
Undeveloped watershed lands form the backbone of open space in Connecticut, yet they are under constant threat of development. For example, in 1999, a golf course was proposed for land near the Mountain Pond reservoir, which would have cleared the land and subjected the pristine lakes to pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins. Once lands and lakes are damaged in this way, it is nearly impossible to restore them.
Aquarion and the Town of Bethel should work together to protect these undeveloped parcels in perpetuity and ensure these properties remain open spaces available for passive recreational use.
The Town of Bethel will hold a public hearing on this matter next Monday. We hope you’ll come speak in favor of protecting these lands.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Bethel High School Auditorium
300 Whittlesey Drive, Bethel, CT
Written public comments may be submitted to:
Bethel Board of Selectmen
Matthew S. Knickerbocker, First Selectman
Bethel Town Hall
1 School Street
Bethel, CT 06801
Posted by Lauren Savidge, legal fellow for CFE