Save the Sound reaches stormwater management agreement with Middletown

Nov. 6, 2023
Following a lawsuit from Save the Sound over alleged Clean Water Act violations, the City of Middletown reached a collaborative agreement with the non-profit to comply with its General Permit requirements.

Environmental non-profit Save the Sound announced that a proposed collaborative agreement with the City of Middletown, Connecticut could help improve Middletown’s stormwater management.

The collaborative agreement was reached with the City of Middletown following a lawsuit Save the Sound filed under the Clean Water Act. The proposed agreement was filed by Save the Sound with the Federal District Court and is subject to a 45-day review period by the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency. The court may accept the agreement after that review if there are no objections.

Save the Sound said that, currently, the Connecticut, Coginchaug, and Mattabesset Rivers; Laurel, Miner, Sawmill, Spruce, and Sumner Brooks; Crystal Lake; and Wadsworth Falls State Park Pond are so impaired by stormwater pollution that they fail to meet the standards of the Clean Water Act.

Save the Sound said that its investigation had found Middletown was in violation of Connecticut’s General Permit for the Discharge of Municipal Stormwater.

“Stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution in Connecticut. Each time it rains, stormwater runoff carries bacteria, metals, fertilizers, oils, chemicals, salt, and plastics into our local waters,” said Jessica Roberts, staff attorney at Save the Sound. “These pollutants can render our rivers and ponds unsuitable for human recreation and unable to support aquatic life.”

To address the impacts of stormwater pollution, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection re-issued a General Permit in 2017 requiring municipalities to protect water quality by, among other things, tracking and eliminating illicit stormwater discharges and reducing their amounts of impervious surface area (parking lots, roofs, etc.).

Save the Sound said that, in 2021, it identified a widespread failure among Connecticut municipalities to comply with the General Permit. Most concerning was the failure of a significant number of permittees to produce their annual reports for consecutive years, preventing the public from determining the municipalities’ compliance with the rest of the General Permit’s requirements.

Under its agreement, the City of Middletown will:

  • comply with all requirements of the General Permit, including sampling outfalls and interconnections; screening outfalls to impaired waters; mapping the city’s municipal stormwater sewer system; addressing erosion and sediment problems; implementing a program to control pollutants from commercial, industrial, municipal, institutional, or other facilities; creating an infrastructure repair/rehabilitation program; developing required plans, tracking and reporting; and achieving a 2 percent reduction in its directly connected impervious area;
  • provide $75,000 for use by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art on the removal of invasive water chestnut (Trapa natans) that has infested the freshwater tidal marshlands between Middletown and Cromwell and prevention of future releases of this invasive species from areas with infestations; and
  • contribute to Save the Sound’s attorneys’ fees and engineering expert costs.

In addition to the action now resolved by the agreement with Middletown, the Towns of Redding, Ridgefield, and Burlington have also signed orders with Save the Sound in the past year requiring compliance with the state’s General Permit for water quality.

Altogether, the four settlements have generated $285,000 in environmental benefit payments to support water quality and habitat restoration projects by four different nonprofits, benefiting the Norwalk River watershed (via green infrastructure and Factory Pond Dam projects), Farmington River watershed, and marshlands between Middletown and Cromwell.

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