Municipal regulatory approaches to nonpoint source pollution in coastal Connecticut's Sasco Brook watershed

Keib, Valerie J.
Alexandra Dawson
Department of Environmental Studies
The Sasco Brook watershed is located along the southwestern coastline of Connecticut in the northeastern United States. Sasco Brook discharges into Long Island Sound, which is recognized as an Estuary of National Significance under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Estuary Program. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution (also known as polluted storm water runoff) has been identified as having an important impact on the water quality of Long Island Sound. Traditional land use planning and regulation has focused on political boundaries, such as town lines. Effective management of nonpoint source pollution requires watershed-based planning coordination, and involves a variety of regulatory agencies and programs. In Connecticut, municipalities have oversight of many of these programs, and have developed a variety of regulations and approaches to the issues involved in nonpoint source pollution management. There is no county government in Connecticut. These conditions make watershed and state-level coordination and planning more complex. The Sasco Brook watershed serves as a good model for studying land uses that have been identified as important contributors of NPS pollution to the sound. A variety of factors contribute to the importance of the Sasco Brook watershed: proximity of Sasco Brook to Long Island Sound; interest and involvement at the municipal level; historical water quality data and ongoing water quality monitoring activities; manageable size of the watershed; absence of known point discharge pollution sources; high ranking potential NPS nitrogen contributions to Long Island Sound; and ease of subdivision into three smaller watersheds within the whole, each with notably different land use characteristics. The objectives of this study are to examine the current regulatory powers and methods used by municipal authorities to control NPS pollution in Sasco Brook, and to make suggestions on ways to improve these regulatory processes within the Sasco Brook watershed.

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