The Department of Environmental Protection is holding a public hearing on a proposal to revise state water quality standards tomorrow afternoon. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.
According to federal law, Connecticut should have reviewed the standards that protect water quality in lakes, rivers and Long Island Sound in 2005 and 2008. But this week’s public hearing is the first on water quality standards since 2002. The standards are not regulations. Instead, they summarize the major water quality policies that drive the way water is protected. D.E.P. biologist Traci Lott says the agency is updating the standards that govern the concentrations of certain chemicals in the water. They also propose restrictions on how warm water can be when it’s released into the environment from power plants and other industries that use water for cooling .
"We can make sure that the surface water body and the aquatic communities are protected from any heat-related impacts. We've made some changes in this criteria to better protect different types of fish communities, particularly looking at the impacts to cold water fish like trout."
The new standards also address the level of nutrients that are allowed. These include nitrogen and phosphorous which can act like fertilizer and accelerate algae growth, eventually consuming oxygen in the water and killing fish. Roger Reynolds from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment says the proposed criteria for phosphorous don’t go far enough to protect aquatic life:
"Many of our lakes and rivers are clogged with green slimy algae as a result of over-nutrifcation. So, this is one of the main pollutants both in our lakes and rivers and Long Island sound."
The D.E.P. says its proposal would result in reducing phosphorous by at least 80%. In addition to the public hearing, the D.E.P. is taking written comments up until February 16th.
For WNPR I’m Nancy Cohen.