When talking about community response to climate change issues, retreat is the “R” word. But it is already happening in coastal states throughout the country, including here in Connecticut. Is it a good or bad idea? Will we be forced to retreat due to sea level rise in 30 years or 50 years? What does it mean to a community and how do we manage it?
If you are like most people, as long as water comes out of the tap, you don’t give it much thought. If your water is supplied by a water company, stringent testing is required by law, and you will periodically receive results of the testing. If you are one of the 40% of Connecticut residents who has a private well, the last time you had that water tested was likely when it was built (you can’t move in unless your well water meets certain criteria), or when you purchased it (if you have a mortgage, the bank will often require testing to make sure you have a safe water supply).
Older homes had shallow wells which drew from groundwater close to the surface. These wells are vulnerable to contamination from surface sources. Newer homes have wells that are drilled into the bedrock, and may be hundreds of feet deep. However, even deep wells can become contaminated from surface sources such as nearby septic systems, road salt, leaks from gas stations, or agricultural activities. Other contaminants such as radon, uranium and arsenic are naturally occurring in some parts of Connecticut.
The best way to protect you and your family from possible contamination is to test your water at one of the state’s certified testing labs. For an extra fee they will come to your home and collect the sample for you, or they will give you instructions on how to collect the sample. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has more information about private well testing. A basic potability test will cover a variety of contaminants including nitrate, sodium, chloride, and bacteria. If you leave near an agricultural area, you may also want to test for pesticides.
It is easy to take our water for granted. Keep your family safe and get your water tested!
By Kara Bonsack
Websites have come a long way since the inception of the Internet. While the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s, 1991 is considered the year the World Wide Web went live. In 1995 the last usage restrictions were lifted, clearing the path for the internet to become what we now know it to be today. (history of the internet)
This year marks 15 years CLEAR has been in existence, it became an official UConn center in 2002. However, there are a few programs within CLEAR that predate it, most notably the CT NEMO Program. CT NEMO has been a part of UConn Extension since 1991. And for much of that time, CLEAR and its related programs have been using the power of the internet to help engage and educate its target audience, Connecticut citizens, its towns, municipalities and community leaders.
Chet Arnold, CT NEMO and CLEAR founder and director, likes to point out, NEMO had a website before our University had a website. I’ve done some research into this, and as far as I can tell, he may be right. Using the Way Back Machine, an online archiving website, the first time it created a screen capture of the NEMO website (see image below, left) was in 2000. However, that screen capture shows a text line on the web page noting the site had been visited 20,770 times since July 18, 1997, AND a screen capture a year later adds to this line, “September 02, 1996 if viewing from the older address”. The first screen capture for the University I found (also below, center) was from December of 1996. Either way, an impressive feat, considering I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what the world wide web was in 1996. CLEAR had its own website soon after its official debut in 2002 (first CLEAR homepage shown below, right).
- MS4 “Circuit Rider”: a NEMO Extension Educator dedicated to the MS4 support program will conduct workshops, trainings and consultations with towns.
- MS4 website: a website far above and beyond the typical regulation website is being developed, as an authoritative and detailed (but not wordy!) guide to MS4 implementation and home for special technical and mapping tools.
- Webinar series: CLEAR’s webinar series will spin off a special NEMO/MS4 series highlighting different requirements of the regulation and approaches to meet them.
- Mapping training: CLEAR’s Geospatial Training Program will provide training and tools to help communities meet the new mapping requirements of the permit.
- Impervious Cover data: NEMO is working with an outside contractor to obtain high resolution impervious cover data, which will be an enormous asset to conducting the drainage area and impervious area analyses required in the permit.
The CLEAR Water Team (aka NEMO Team) is looking forward to this challenge, and in the process developing a whole new generation of stormwater outreach tools and resources. NEMO will be working with DEEP, regional Councils of Government, and both public and private sector organizations to tackle this issue so important to the health and welfare of the citizens of Connecticut.
CLEAR’s Land Use Academy has won the 2014 Education Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association. The Academy, created in 2007, provides basic training for municipal land use commissioners on roles and responsibilities, legal requirements and site plan reading, as well as advanced training on emerging topics. As we all know, land use in the Nutmeg State is determined almost exclusively at the municipal level, by volunteer commissioners who are not necessarily up to speed on what they’re really supposed to be doing, or how. The LUA is the principal organization in the state addressing this critical need for education. The Academy is founded on a strong partnership between UConn, the Connecticut Bar Association, the state’s Regional Planning Organizations, and the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (CT OPM).
The lion’s share of the kudos go to CLEAR Land Use Planning Educator Bruce Hyde, who oversees the Academy and does everything from agenda planning to lecturing to ordering the lunch and taking registration. Bruce is a veteran of over 30 years of professional planning work in both Vermont and Connecticut, but that doesn’t mean that the LUA is “old school.” Most Academy lectures, for instance, include audience response interludes using “clickers,” allowing Bruce and our incredible stable of Bar Association lecturers to get the pulse of the audience on certain topics and/or quiz them on various points.
The CCAPA award letter states: “The Chapter has benefited from this program for years on end and we are delighted to recognize its efforts.” From our enormously self-serving but nonetheless observant perspective, we agree that the Land Use Academy serves an important role in helping Connecticut towns approach their land use decision-making in a defensible, thorough and conscientious manner. And with very modest resources, the LUA has had a broad reach: since 2007 the Academy has trained over 1300 people from commissions in 156 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. So, CONGRATS to Bruce to and to our barrister co-conspirators, most especially Rich Roberts, Ken Slater, and Mark Branse.
In this revealing article in the magazine International Innovation, UConn Extension’s Chet Arnold reviews the importance of instilling knowledge in land use decision makers and outlines the contributions that the Center for Land Use Education and Research is making in this area.
Click here to read the full article…
By Cary Chadwick
On May 3, CLEAR’s Geospatial Training Program (GTP) and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council held its second session of a training course called “Using GPS for Monitoring and Mapping Land Trust Holdings.”
The one-day course is designed to teach participants how to use a handheld GPS receiver to map property boundaries and specific locations that can be monitored annually to determine and record compliance with easement restrictions. The course is also useful for land trusts members and others looking to map trails on their properties.
The hands-on field portion of the training took place on the Haddam Land Trust’s Bamforth Wildlife Preserve, located just a mile from CLEAR’s headquarters. While walking the property, the 18 participants learned how to map property boundaries, trails, and points of interest including hypothetical violations, survey markers, invasive species, and scenic viewpoints. They also spotted a boxed turtle and garter snake. Field photographs were collected to be used in monitoring reports and mapping products. Later, back in the classroom, participants downloaded their GPS data and created interactive, online maps using free software can be shared within their organization or published on their land trust website.
For more information and to learn about future trainings, visit http://clear.uconn.edu/geospatial/training.htm. In addition, CLEAR hopes to partner with the Connecticut Land Conservation Council again in the future to offer a series of workshops for Connecticut’s land trust members focused on best practices in land stewardship.