Letter: Keep aquifer protection with P&Z
To the Editor:
The Conservation Commission wants you to believe that your drinking water is at risk — it’s not. The Aquifer Protection Agency (APA) was established to protect the Level A state-defined aquifer in 1990, and zoning regulations to protect locally-defined aquifers were adopted the same year. In the 29 years that P&Z has served as the APA, Connecticut DEEP records no spills or contamination in the public (Aquarion) or private wells of Ridgefield.
Ridgefield is one of 18 towns in the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WESTCOG, which extends from Greenwich to Norwalk to Newtown to Sherman, inclusive). Twelve of the 18 towns have APA’s, and 11 authorize APA to P&Z. Additionally, WESTCOG states in their 2020-2030 draft POCD that “Currently, only Ridgefield has established zoning regulations that consider the need to protect both existing and potential aquifers to meet future water supplies.”
Conservation argues that water is water —surface waters, wetlands and aquifers are the same and therefore should be regulated by the IWB. DEEP does not agree. If they did, aquifer protection would be incorporated within the wetland regulations —but they aren’t. In fact, DEEP recommends that APA authority be with P&Z because both APA and P&Z regulate land use, whereas IWB only has authority through the Inland Wetlands Watercourse Act and does not regulate use. 80% of Connecticut towns with APAs follow DEEP’s recommendation. So should Ridgefield.
Conservation ignores DEEP’s recommendation, and without evidence or facts, argues that P&Z is unqualified to serve as the APA, and unqualified to enforce its own zoning regulations to protect locally-defined aquifers. Conservation wants aquifer regulations re-assigned to the yet-to-be-elected IWB. Last year Conservation argued that Ridgefield follow the lead of most other Connecticut towns with separate IWBs. Now, when most towns comply with DEEP and have APA with P&Z, Conservation is silent on following other towns.
Support DEEP’s recommendation. Keep Aquifer Protection with P&Z.
Wilton Road East, Aug. 26
Editor’s note: The letter writer is chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission.