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MDC Proposal To Supply UConn: First Selectman Don Stein’s Email To Barkhamsted Residents

Following is a copy of an email sent on Monday evening by Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein to Barkhamsted residents informing them of the MDC proposal to provide water to UConn and surrounding areas. The email also gives information of the public hearing scheduled by UConn at the UConn Health Center this evening at 7 p.m. and information on submitting comments to UConn on the MDC proposal by January 31. The information Don provides is also pertinent to New Hartford residents:

I don’t know how many of you are aware of the proposal by the Metropolitan District Commission to provide water to the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs and the surrounding area in Mansfield. This proposal would draw water from the MDC’s Barkhamsted and Nepaug reservoirs and provide it to that area through a pipeline to be constructed from East Hartford. There are two other competing proposals, both of which are from water companies closer to UConn. Unfortunately, the MDC’s proposed approach has the potential to jeopardize the Farmington River, and in particular, the West Branch which flows through Riverton and Pleasant Valley.

Barkhamsted, New Hartford and all of the Farmington River communities depend strongly on the Federally-designated Wild and Scenic West Branch of the Farmington River, as well as the Lower Farmington which has been proposed for the same Federal designation. The river is our best known and most significant tourist attraction and attracts fisherman from many parts of the country. It is fed by the Hogback Reservoir and the Colebrook River Lake and the potential for future diversion of West Branch waters into the Barkhamsted Reservoir could be devastating to the fish and the river environment. Although this diversion is not in the current proposal, the MDC has not taken that option off the table for future consideration. Lake McDonough, which is in both New Hartford and Barkhamsted, is used for overflow from the Barkhamsted Reservoir and then feeds the River. The lake, which includes Stanclift Cove, is a critical element of the recreation offered to our residents and many neighboring communities. If water is drawn from the Barkhamsted Reservoir, there could then be insufficient reserves in a dry year to keep the lake at an appropriate level for boating, swimming and fishing.

I have attached comments (to see the comments, click on the link below) by William F. Case, President, Farmington Valley Trout Unlimited, which is a thorough, but lengthy discussion of the potential hazards to the Farmington River and our area. His conclusion is “that it is inappropriate for UConn with its unique status as a largely unregulated water company to make a unilateral decision (enthusiastically supported by the MDC) affecting both current MDC users who may find their water in short supply and more particularly Farmington River Valley residents who most likely would have no opportunity to vote on the proposed MDC diversion plan. The Environmental Impact Evaluation as offered by Milone and MacBroom (UConn’s contractor) on behalf of UConn and the Town of Mansfield raises more questions than it answers and does not provide anything like an adequate basis for decision-making.”

I also endorsed Bill Case’s comments in a letter I submitted to the University in early January in response to their request for public input. In addition to my earlier letter, the Farmington River towns will be submitting a letter at tomorrow night’s public hearing endorsed by all of the First Selectmen. In this letter, the towns of Avon, Barkhamsted Burlington, Canton, Colebrook, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, New Hartford, and Simsbury, will express our concerns about the MDC proposal and to urge that UCONN select a different alternative.

Please note that UConn has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday evening, January 22nd at 7 p.m. at 16 Munson Road, Farmington.

At this point, the deadline for public comments regarding the Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) ends at the close of business on January 31, 2013.

If you are interested, please plan to attend this meeting or you may send your comments to arrive by mail, fax or e-mail before the January 31 deadline.

Comments should be addressed to:
Mr. Jason M. Coite
University of Connecticut – Office of Environmental Policy
31 LeDoyt Road, U-3055
Storrs, CT 06269-3055

Phone 860-486-9305
Fax 860-486-5477


Download a copy of Bill Case’s comments on the MDC proposal: Comments on MDC Proposal To Supply Water To UConn and Mansfield Area, Bill Case, Farmington Valley Trout Unlimited (31).

The bell from the church in Barkhamsted Hollow that was moved when that village was flooded to create one of the MDC's reservoirs.  Photo: Maria Moore

The bell from the church in Barkhamsted Hollow that was moved when that village was flooded to create one of the MDC’s reservoirs. Photo: Maria Moore

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