TO: Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality
FROM: Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
RE: Ethel Walker School aquifer
DATE: February 21, 2006
Dear Chairman Harrison and Members of the Council:
For almost a year, Rivers Alliance has been watching the plans and
controversy relating to the development of the open space belonging to
Ethel Walker school. I have been distressed to observe that these plans
violate the statutory protections for Class I and Class II lands.
Despite notice from the Department of Public Health that this is the
case, the developer seems to believe that statutory protections for
public drinking water lands is a trivial matter.
The school is a water supplier and the property sits atop a valuable
drinking water aquifer. This is not a case of a mere technical legal
barrier. This aquifer really does need protection. It is an important
water source for Simsbury and the state.
Possibly the school can find a legal way around the barriers to
development, either using the rather difficult legal process of
abandoning its source or getting a legislative exemption. If the school
intends to get a legislative exemption, I would hope it would be in the
form of a bill open to public debate and not a “rat” attached at the
last minute to the budget implementer bill.
If these lands are to be developed, it should be with extraordinary
protections for the aquifer in the form of restrictions and easements.
Normal zoning and wetlands rules do not allow for sufficient
We strongly urge, however, that the property be conserved as open Class
I and II land. As time goes on, and high-quality water becomes ever
harder to find, this may well prove to be a better financial investment
than selling off the aquifer today.
Thanks for your attention,