Protect the Partrick Wetlands
The Conservation commission is nearing a final decision on what we know as the FD Rich Property between Newtown Turnpike and Partrick Road. In the work sessions up to this point they have done a few positive things to protect the wetlands, but are now poised to overlook and abandon one of their main responsibilities and mandates.
The Westport Town Charter bestows protection of aquifers to them. An aquifer is a body of water located below the surface and is the source of almost all of our drinking water. The CT DEP has suggested that any new homes constructed over an aquifer be setback 100 feet from a wetland. The Westport conservation guidelines allow for an 85 foot setback. Yet this commission seems intent on leaving the 35 foot setback intact. WHY?
Some vocal members are saying that since many houses in westport already exist above the aquifer what's the difference if a few more are built. Some domineering members also say that these houses are on the edge of the aquifer, so what's the difference. The difference is that no one knows what the threshold for destruction, contamination or disruption is. No one knows what will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The CT DEP does not make any distinction about number of houses or their location. Their wording is clear, all new construction over aquifers needs to be setback 100' from wetlands. And 11 houses of this huge proposal are directly above the aquifer.
Many other towns have already adopted these new guidelines. Westport should not lag behind any other municipality in the protection of our drinking water, instead we should be the leader. Our Conservation Commission has a duty to protect us and our drinking water as the state suggests. Anything less would be a diservice to our communuity and our health.