Ridgefield has 10 aquifer protection zones. One is a state-defined Level A aquifer and is regulated by the Aquifer Protection Agency. The other nine locally-defined aquifers are regulated by the Planning and Zoning Commission . All aquifers are regulated by An Act Concerning Aquifer Protection Areas, and fall under the authority of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the charge to identify critical water supply aquifers and to protect them from pollution by managing land-use.
Connecticut established the Aquifer Protection Area Program to identify critical public water supply aquifers and to protect them from pollution by managing land-use and the use of hazardous materials. Aquifer protection responsibilities are shared by DEEP and local regulatory authorities. In compliance with DEEP guidelines, Ridgefield’s APA authority is with the PZC.
State-defined aquifers are identified and delineated by the DEEP as “active public water supply wells in stratified drift, used by a public or private company, that serve more than 1,000 people.” Ridgefield’s one state-defined aquifer on the western side of town is known as the “Level A Oscaleta Well Field.” It is owned by Aquarion Water Company. It is this aquifer that is regulated by the APA.
The nine locally-defined aquifers are regulated by PZC zoning regulations, Section 6.2 Aquifer Protection Zone (Locally-defined). The APA regulations and Sec. 6.2 are very similar as the local regulations must comply with state regulations.
Under both DEEP and Town of Ridgefield zoning regulations, all regulated activities are prohibited in aquifer protection areas, excepted as permitted in the regulations. The following use activities are some of those permitted by DEEP and the town:
Any activity conducted at a residence without compensation
Any agricultural activity pursuant to CGS 22a-354m(d) (i.e. farm management)
Activities that take place within an enclosed building with an impermeable floor
Hazardous material stored in an enclosed building with an impermeable floor
Kim Czapla, DEEP, recommends keeping the APA as part of the PZC. Whereas the IWB is charged with regulating certain activities (not uses) within the town’s wetlands, watercourses, waterbodies and upland review areas, the APA is tasked with implementing local land-use regulations by regulating land-use activities through issuance of permits for new regulated activities, which is in-line with other responsibilities of the town’s PZC. The DEEP finds the trend in the state is to have the APA as part of P&Z, and notes some recent cases of towns moving that authority from wetlands to P&Z due to the increase in the size, and complexity of issues, of some aquifer protection areas.
Per DEEP, of the 79 towns in Connection with APAs in 2018, 63 are the responsibility of the town’s Planning and/or Zoning commissions. Only 12 are the responsibility of the IWBs, four of the Conservation Commission and one of the WPCA.
As the conversation continues, accurate facts and information are always helpful.
Rebecca Mucchetti is the chair of the Inland Wetlands Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Aquifer Protection Agency.