CFE concerned for 290 acres of pristine watershed land in Bethel/Aquarion agreement (update)

Jul 9th, 2013 | By | Category: Land

Watch as Bethel residents are given the opportunity to question town officials, managers from Aquarion Water Company and representatives from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) on the proposed sale of Bethel Water Systems to Aquarion.

For more on this story, visit: Residents Question Aquarion On Sale Of Bethel Water – Government – Bethel, CT Patch.

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CFE ON NEARLY 300 ACRES OF OPEN SPACE AT RISK IN BETHEL

Connecticut Fund for the Environment issued the statement below following a public meeting in Bethel, CT, regarding an agreement between the Town of Bethel and Aquarion Water Co. to sell the Bethel Water Co.

Under the agreement, Aquarion is allowed, and has stated that it intends, to abandon the Chestnut Ridge, Eureka Lake, and Mountain Pond reservoirs and transfer nearly 300 acres of open space back to the Town of Bethel, unencumbered by water company lands regulations that protect against over development. The deal has been approved by Bethel’s Town Public Utilities Commission, Board of Selectman, and Board of Finance, and is set to go to a voter referendum later this summer.

Roger Reynolds, CFE’s legal director and director of land protection programs, said:

“We’re concerned that this agreement would strip legal protections from over 290 acres of undeveloped watershed land around three reservoirs. Rather than abandon this valuable water supply, Aquarion and Bethel should preserve the land in its undeveloped state, consistent with water company land regulations. This will protect the lands for use as passive recreation by Bethel residents and the integrity of the drinking water supply for future and emergency use by Bethel and the surrounding towns. Water is not an unlimited resource, and we must think in terms of decades and centuries, not years.

“At the very least, Aquarion should transfer the land to the Town of Bethel with a conservation restriction held by a third party local land conservation organization. This would protect the watershed lands from development and allow the Town of Bethel to open it up for passive recreation. Without such conservation restrictions, this deal would flagrantly violate the public trust and make these lands vulnerable to speculation and development. Unless protections are added, the agreement should be voted down by the citizens of Bethel.”

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