Minutes of the July 26, 2006 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Holcombe Room, 5th  Floor, 79 Elm Street, Hartford.


PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Howard Beach, John Mandyck, Earl Phillips, Norman VanCor, Wesley Winterbottom, Karl Wagener (Executive Director), Stephanie Cangiano (intern).

GUESTS:   Richard Miller, Director of Environmental Policy, University of Connecticut; Robert Kaliszewski and Tessa Gutowski, Department of Environmental Protection.


Harrison convened the meeting at 9:05 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 


Phillips made a motion to approve the June 28, 2006 minutes.  VanCor seconded the motion. Approved unanimously.


Chairman’s Report


Chairman Harrison said he had received positive feedback on the annual report from many people, and that there had been several news articles about the report.


Executive Director’s Report


Wagener said that he had also received positive feedback.  He said that he had spoken with Jim Fleming, Commissioner of Public Works, who wanted to clarify something that was reported in the annual report.  Commissioner Fleming had rejected the Council’s advice to conduct a natural resource review of the Norwich State Hospital property based on legal advice, but he wanted the Council to know that he had ordered an environmental impact evaluation of a similar piece of surplus property more recently.


Wagener said that the special report on encroachments was still getting responses, including an article in Farmington Life and an e-mail from the president of a land trust who is contemplating an information campaign.  Members agreed that it is time to contact legislators about some of the unfinished business relating to that report.


Wagener distributed an article about the Shepaug River settlement, at the request of Winterbottom, and added that the Bond Commission had approved the necessary funds in June to implement the settlement.


Citizen Complaints


University of Connecticut (UConn) Water Supply Planning – Richard Miller, Director of Environmental Policy at UConn, presented an update on the status of the Fenton River study and related conservation measures, and answered questions.  The main points include the following:

·          The Fenton River study is on the Institute of Water Resources website.

·          The plan calls for stopping pumping from the Fenton wells during low flow periods.

·          There is ongoing study of the river ecosystem.

·          The system is being managed better, and improvements to the Willimantic River wellfield and pipe system will allow more water to be taken from the Willimantic wells. 

·          There will be a water and sewer advisory board.

·          UConn’s water supply plan was approved.

·          All new construction on campus will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, and there are many audits and conservation measures being implemented.


Wagener:    The recommendations in the study are not requirements; how will they be implemented.

Miller:   The University management is committed to implementing the recommendations.


VanCor:   What is the Level A mapping schedule for the Willimantic aquifer?

Miller:   UConn resumed mapping after the delay caused by the revisions to the regulations, and plans to finish within a year.


Mandyck said it was important to have comprehensive goals and plans for water conservation, similar to ones for energy use.  Miller agreed.   Winterbottom noted the rest stop in Vermont that recycles water. 


Chairman Harrison asked for this item to be interrupted briefly to allow the Council to take up another agenda item, the discussion of the proposed amendment to the state’s Solid Waste Plan, after which the Council would return this agenda item.   Members concurred.


Discussion of Proposed Amendment to the State Solid Waste Management Plan


Wagener said that the DEP was proposing an amendment to the state solid waste management plan, the first since 1991, and referred to the memo he had distributed in advance.  Chairman Harrison invited Bob Kaliszewski and Tessa Gutowski of the DEP to the table.  They described how the solid waste management world had changed since 1991.  Now, about 90% of construction and demolition debris, and a significant percentage of municipal waste, are shipped out of state by rail and truck.  Some of Connecticut’s resource recovery facilities might revert to the private sector when their bonds are paid off in five to ten years, with unknown implications.  The contracts with towns will also expire, and there is a lot of competition from cheaper landfills in states to the west.   Harrison thanked them for their presentation.  Members said they would like some time to review the plan, which the guests had distributed on CD-ROM.  Wagener said he would prepare comments, based on the points in the memo, for review and approval.


Citizen Complaints (Continued)


Chairman Harrison said the Council would return to the discussion of UConn Water Supply Planning.


Beach:   Will greater storage capacity be part of the plan?

Miller:   The University has an extraordinary amount of capacity already.


VanCor:   Will the UConn water system be turned over to a private company such as the Connecticut Water Company, to allow for connections to more supply?

Miller:   It is being managed by that company now.  Having them take it over completely would be a last resort.


Margaret Miner, Executive Director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, speaking from the audience, said the approach to the UConn water supply is still very fragmented, and this is evident in the different approaches of the agencies that commented on the study. She had questions about the water company-like lands referred to in the consent order issued by the Department of Public Health.  She was still advocating an integrated agency approach, and wanted to see more opportunity for involvement by people in the community.


Denise Burchsted, Executive Director of the Naubesatuck Watershed Council, said she appreciated UConn’s and Mr. Miller’s efforts.  She had a question about the DPH’s to regulate water company lands.  She wanted to see more clarity in the oversight of the system, and found it hard to get information.


Chairman Harrison thanked everyone for their participation, and said the Council will continue to monitor developments.


Other citizen complaints – Wagener said that there were more than 12 complaints pending, and he would prepare a report before the next meeting.  Nothing required action at this time.


Review of State Agency Projects


Parking Garage at Eastern Connecticut State University – Wagener said that Cangiano had reviewed the Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) for this proposed project.  Cangiano, who was familiar with the site, said the EIE was well written and appeared to be complete.  She noted that the garage would be built on the old softball field, and the impacts of constructing a new field at another site was addressed thoroughly in the EIE.  Members concurred that no comments were needed.


Discussion of Anticipated Amendment to State Open Space Plan


Wagener elaborated on the announcement of the previous month that the DEP intended to update the “Green Plan” this year.  He said the statute required the DEP to consult with the Council, and suggested that the Council write to the Commissioner expressing its desire to help with this effort.   Members discussed the question of whether the state should adhere to the target date of 2023 that has been in effect as the target for achieving the statutory goal of conserving 21% of the landscape, as the anticipated plan has to be built around a target.  Members concurred that the target date should remain in effect.  VanCor said it was the Council’s role to communicate this to the legislature at the appropriate time, and members agreed.  By consensus, members agreed to send one letter to Commissioner Gina McCarthy and one to Governor M. Jodi Rell that confirm the need to adhere to the target and to offer the Council’s assistance.  Harrison and Wagener would work on the letters.


Discussion of New Indicators for Annual Report


Cangiano discussed the proposed energy-efficiency indicators that she had distributed previously.  Members agreed it was highly desirable to include indicators of this type.  Members suggested several changes, including replacing trends in Energy Star houses with Energy Star appliance sales, and adding residential gas and oil to the graph with residential electricity consumption trends.  Phillips questioned the energy efficiency trend, which was based on energy consumption per dollar of gross state product, saying the changes in the state’s economy are the driving force behind the favorable trend.  Staff said more information and new graphs would be prepared for the August meeting.


Discussion of Inland Wetlands Issues


Members agreed that it would be good to give the DEP a list of questions or topics for discussion in advance of the August meeting that will focus on wetlands matters.   After reviewing the memo from staff, members asked Wagener to prepare a list for review and subsequent forwarding to the DEP staff who would be attending.  Mandyck wanted to be sure the Farmington complaint was discussed in August. 


Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of the Farmington River Watershed Association, speaking from the audience, suggested broadening the panel to include municipal and federal regulators.  He thought it would be important to discuss the lack of resources at the local level and the insufficient training available for land use commission members, as well as inconsistent enforcement a the local level, the saber-rattling performed by developers who threaten small towns with lawsuits, and the need for a better appeals system so that the developers would have to sue the DEP instead of the towns.  Members thought the broader panel was a good idea, but for a future meeting, not August, as there was not enough time in August.


Evon Kochey of Canton, speaking from the audience, distributed a letter about local enforcement of the inland wetlands laws, and spoke briefly about the need for more enforcement.


Harrison adjourned the meeting at 12:05.