Assistance to Municipal Land Use Commissions
Connecticut is unique in that substantial regulatory authority is vested in the volunteer members of the Planning Commission, Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Agency of each municipality. These volunteer commission members make the key decisions which collectively shape the local landscape.
Our goal is to provide these land use commissioners and their staff members with the best possible information and tools to do their job. Our technical staff provides many services to assist commissions such as reviewing and commenting on site plans, review of erosion and sediment or stormwater issues, on-site investigations, and conduct ecological reports.
In addition, each year we present a series of training programs on key topics.
Northwest Conservation District serves as a local clearing house for environmental information and assistance.
If we can't answer your question, we know who can!
Daily we assist the public who call or visit our office to find answers and solutions to environmental questions and problems.
We are very familiar with the environmental network of federal, state or local agencies and private non-profit groups. We frequently work in partnership with them and we understand the services and special expertise each offers. Give us a call at (860) 626-7222.
Click Here to view the Brodie Park South Environmental Baseline Report, Niles Road, New Hartford
Soils & Erosion
We provide Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan review for proposed projects in our local towns. Our reviews ensure that new development meets the requirements described in the Connecticut 2002 Guidelines for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control. This Manual is available on the CT Department of Environmental Protection website.
2002 Guidelines for Soil and Sediment Control
Why Stormwater? Have you ever noticed what happens during and after a heavy downpour? Where does the water go AFTER THE RAIN? Remember the water cycle you learned about in school...
That natural water cycle is disturbed or interrupted in a developed landscape. Buildings, driveways, parking lots, decks, roofs - all of these block the natural return of rainwater to the groundwater.
The stormwater runoff carries with it all kinds of pollutants from trash, pet waste, soil erosion, pesticides and fertilizers, motor vehicle fluids and septic systems. Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairments to our waterways.
LID or Low Impact Development is a
more natural way of looking at land development.
Sometimes called Green Infrastructure, LID Systems can include many techniques designed to treat stormwater on site thereby preventing erosion and protecting water quality. Some of these are:
- RainGardens or Bioretention
- Grass Lined Swales
- Detention Ponds
- Pervious kinds of pavement
In our daily work of site plan reviews and our educational programs, we are consistently teaching about and recommending this new group of smart solutions to erosion control and water quality protection.
There are numerous excellent resources to learn more:
- CT DEP
- Center for Watershed Protection
For More Information on Low Impact Development check out the following sources:
Low Impact Development Center
University of New Hampshire - Stormwater Center
Sustainable Site Initiative
Puget Sound Action Team - Seattle, WA
Website of Dr. Robert Pitt, PE - University of Alabama
EPA Website on Low Impact Development
North Carolina State University - College of Agriculture & Life Sciences/College of Engineering
Northfield Brook Litchfield / Thomaston
The Northfield Brook Watershed is approximately 1,200 acres and falls completely within the Towns of Litchfield and Thomaston. The Northfield Brook is an impaired stream that drains the watershed and flows into the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) Northfield Dam Flood Control Project. The ACE is having huge sediment problems as well as high nutrient concentrations and high bacteria count problems. The swimming area is closed many times during the summer because of poor water quality issues. After visiting the property and reviewing historic water quality and sedimentation data it was obvious that the watershed was contributing substantial sediments and nutrient loads to the Northfield Lake.
The Northwest Conservation District won an award to perform “Track Down Surveys” in the Northfield Brook Watershed to identify potential contributing sources of sediments, nutrients and water born pathogens. A Track Down Survey is the first step in identifying problems within a watershed. It involved walking the streambed of every watercourse (perennial and intermittent) in the watershed looking for problem spots. All the details of the field surveys were compiled into a database as well as watershed maps that shows locations and actual pictures of problem areas.
The Track Down Survey allowed us to compile a total picture of what is causing the accelerated pond eutrophication and water quality degradation. Surveying the entire watershed that feeds the pond provided a large and detailed body of information that we incorporated into a Watershed Management Plan. We are currently implementing a section of the plan by designing and installing a number of stormwater quality management retrofits to help relieve water quality problems.
Mill Brook Cornwall
Mill Brook is an impaired stream that flows West through Cornwall into the Housatonic River. The Fisheries Division of the CT DEP accomplished fish sampling at many locations throughout the watershed in the summer of 2006 and noted a significant lack of expected populations and diversity. The NCD has accomplished a Track Down Survey for the entire watershed which provide a detailed body of information that was used to draft a Wate
Morgan Brook Winchester/New Hartford / Barkhamsted
Morgan Brook is a stream that flows East through Barkhamsted into the Farmington River. A large portion of Morgan Brook’s upper watershed has been developed with a high percentage of impervious surfaces. Improper stormwater management in the headwaters of a stream can often be the cause of problems throughout the watershed. Table 3-3 of the 2008 CT Integrated Water Quality Report (IWQR) lists Morgan Brook as being impaired for recreation use, and supporting aquatic life. Therefore, the NCD proposed to survey the entire watershed to provide a detailed body of information that can be used to draft a watershed management plan and create an interactive map that can be used to quickly access collected field data and photos. We won an award to accomplish this work in Fall of 2009. It is our hope that there could be some small modifications to the stormwater and waste water management practices that will help reverse the degrading water quality trend so that the CT DEP can remove this stream from CTs
list of impaired waters.
NAUGATUCK RIVER WATERSHED
The Naugatuck is famous nationwide for a dramatic recovery from past industrial pollution. NCD has been involved in many projects to improve the Naugatuck.
In 2008 we designed and installed a series of interpretive river signs with maps, fun facts and tips for River Care and Protection.
We also trained Streamwalk Volunteers for both the East and West Branches of the River in Torrington. Over the summers of 2002 and 2003, many volunteers walked the river and collected data on river and streambank conditions. This data has been compiled, trouble spots prioritized and mapped. In the Spring of 2004, we assisted the CT DEP in creating a vegetated buffer of native plants along the river at the Water Pollution Control Facility in Waterbury.
FARMINGTON RIVER WATERSHED
We sponsored another streamwalk training program for volunteers to survey a stretch of the Farmington Riverbank. The data collected became part of a multi-state study led by a Coalition of all the Conservation Districts up and down the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Two other programs focused on educating Homeowners and Business Owners along the Farmington in good river stewardship:
• New Hartford Business Partners. This program invited each business to become a River Friendly Business and to consider the connection between their parking lot and the health of the Farmington River. We visited each business, provided on site assistance and followed up with a series of mailings providing tips on maintenance and education on Stormwater Pollution: “When stormwater washes across paved surfaces, pollution like trash, sand, salt, oil is carried directly into the river. Maintaining your grounds and parking lot will keep trash and pollutants out of the river.”
• Farmington River Good Neighbor. Each abutting homeowner was encouraged to carry out a few simple tasks to protect the health of the river such as “Green Landscaping”, Regular Septic Maintenance, Vehicle Maintenance, and others.
POMPERAUG RIVER WATERSHED
We have finished a project to repair a serious erosion site on the Pomperaug River near the Judson Avenue Bridge in Woodbury. This site was chosen as the most serious of several potential spots. This fix will protect private property and improve the river for all residents. This project was funded in part by the CT DEP under section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act.
HOLLENBECK RIVER WATERSHED
For years the Beebe Hill area in Falls Village has been dealing with incredible erosion problems which have threatened town roads and private property. District persistence to obtain Grant Funding for a permanent fix finally paid off. Fixing this erosion will benefit the local area and keep sediments from damaging nearby Robbins Swamp, a pristine wetland area.
This project was funded in part by the CT DEP under section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act.
BLACKBERRY RIVER WATERSHED
The large numbers of livestock in this small watershed require creative answers to manure management. Over the past several years, NCD has secured five grants for the Canaan Valley Agricultural COOP and its members. These grants have supported research, planning and design of machinery to separate, dry and compost manure. This new pathogen free material is now being used for "Cow Pots" that are perfect for seedling starters. These Cow Pots even have built in fertilizer for the new plants.
Another project in the Blackberry assisted the farmers by conducting soil testing to measure nutrients. NCD staff sampled all farm fields and tested for nutrient levels. The results saved dollars spent on excess fertilizer and protected water quality in the watershed.
LAKE WARAMAUG WATERSHED
Sucker Brook was identified as one source contributing excess nutrients that were causing damage to the lake. A local dairy operation needed assistance to solve this problem.
NCD secured Clean Water Act funding from the CT DEP under Section 319 and then was able to piece together a coalition of funding from federal (USDA NRCS), state (CT Dept of Agriculture) and local (Lake Waramaug Task Force) sources. A system for storage and controlled usage of manure on farm fields was constructed resulting in a cleaner brook and lake.
Open Space and Farmland Preservation
We education the public and students about the farmland crisis situation in Connecticut. According to Working Lands Alliance, we are losing farmland at a dramatic rate. Between 1992 and 1997 the state lost and average of 8,000 acres per year to non-agricultural uses. If the current rate of loss continues, Connecticut will have no farmland left by the middle of this century.
We have presented numerous programs for agricultural producers on Nutrient Management, Pasture Management, Rotational Grazing, Forest Management, and Special Programs for Horse Owners