Executive Director, Connecticut River Watershed Council
The Connecticut River Watershed Council is working toward ambitious and consistent water quality goals for the entire Connecticut River watershed, and trying to erase differences in expectations for restoring and maintaining the biological integrity of our water across state boundaries.
How Connect the Connecticut connects
We recognize from the perspective of the Watershed Council that we have very high expectations for our water. Everybody owns the water, everybody owns the fish, and we have a really high expectations for what we want the watershed to become. That requires a whole lot of really good scientific and technical information so we know where to put our resources. From our vantage point a project like this is very helpful because it pulls the best science together, and has the best people evaluate it, make decisions about the information, and then ideally that leaves us a tool that allows us to say: These are our broad goals, this is where we want to make them manifest.
How it will inform work on the ground
We will be using the science products from Connect the Connecticut for scoping projects and identifying priorities. In terms of restoration work, we focus on culvert replacements, riparian habitat restoration, invasive plant removal, reintroduction of native species, dam removal, and more. So these tools are useful in a general sense because we know there is a tremendous amount of data that has been analyzed and collected in one place, and that it is oriented towards shared priorities. There are so many wells to dip into for information, so the fact that this is comprehensive and comprehensible to those who are not power users of data is really important.
There are so many wells to dip into for information, so the fact that this is comprehensive and comprehensible to those who are not power users of data is really valuable.
The Connecticut River Watershed Council is one of seven partners – including Highstead Foundation – that have received funding from a $10 million federal grant from the USDA Regional Conservation Partners Program (RCPP) to reduce agricultural runoff into the Sound. Although a cleanup plan for Long Island Sound has been mapped out for at least 10 years, there is this pending question about upstream responsibility. With point-source dischargers, you can do limited technological or effluent reductions. But what about nonpoint sources?
The partners in the Long Island Sound RCCP are working together to identify the best opportunities for sediment and nutrient reductions in the Connecticut River watershed – which drains into Long Island Sound. But we also want to overlay the Terrestrial Core-Connector Network to determine where those opportunities coincide with high quality habitat. The hope is that we can get multiple benefits – both habitat and restoration – from each project.
Additional information and resources