Protect the Partrick Wetlands
August 20, 2004
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has determined that the ARS Partners proposed sewer line extension from Norwalk to the Partrick Wetlands is outside the scope of Westport's sewer coverage plan.
In a letter sent to Westport Town Hall on Friday August 13th (pdf file), the DEP states "we have not found an exception for the Partrick wetlands area in the approved facilities plan nor does the sewer service area map indicate this area to be within the sewer service area." The DEP continues, "It is the Department's position that the facilities plan, including the sewer service area map, is the water pollution control plan for the town of Westport."
The ARS sewer extension could jeopardize pending state grants and loans, of approximately $10 million, to Westport for the needed upgrade to the Town's Water Treatment facility which is estimated to cost $37.7 million.
ARS is putting the Town and its residents at extreme financial risk with their choice to sewer their project. They don't have to use sewers, they are choosing sewers solely to allow them to maximize their development and their profits by cramming 22 houses on 9 acres.
The use of an on-site community sanitary system would alleviate this situation entirely and more importantly decrease the number of houses and lessen the impact on the wetlands and the surrounding communities. The idea that sewers are mandatory for the zone is a fallacy that has been promoted by ARS and their attorney from day one.
On-site community waste systems are safe and part of sewerage avoidance plans that are supported and encouraged by the CT DEP and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Sewers bring sprawl and over-development and the proof is the number of houses per acre that ARS would squeeze into the wetlands.
The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund fully supports the initiative to upgrade the Westport Water Treatment Facility, to meet environmental standards, and in turn we endorse the long needed sewering of Saugatuck Shores. But the Town must adhere to the parameters and boundaries of their own plans.
For three years we have said the proposed sewer line is not consistent with Westport's Town Plan, with Norwark's Master Plan, with the State Plan of Conservation and Development and more recently with Westport's new Sewer Upgrade and Coverage Plan. The DEP heard us and agrees.
The Partrick Wetlands and Northwestern Westport are designated as Sewer Avoidance Areas. As the DEP said, there are places "where sewers are acceptable and where sewers are not acceptable." Saugatuck should be sewered, Partrick should not.
This new information should give Westport and everyone involved a chance to step back and look at the overall picture and realize that having a private developer extend a sewer line, for their own benefit, is not in the better interests of the residents of Westport and Norwalk or for that matter the entire region.
We are pleased the DEP has taken the time and effort to intervene into this complicated and troublesome issue.
For more information please call Sean Timmins at 203-856-9963