HARTFORD - The engineering firm that conducted an environmental study on Tilconâ€™s mining proposal is now saying that New Britain water sources could be used to fill the reservoir the project would create in addition to water â€śflood skimmedâ€ť from Bristol.
Lenard Engineeringâ€™s study, which encompasses many aspects of Tilconâ€™s plan to mine 131 acres of protected watershed near Bradley Mountain, has come under fire from residents, environmental advocates and even the state environmental officials who had to review the 500-page document.
Lenard and the cityâ€™s acting Water Department director, Ray Esponda, initially said that the reservoir would be filled with run-off from Coppermine Brook in Bristol, a practice called â€śflood skimming.â€ť
But after seeing language in the state Council on Environmental Qualityâ€™s draft report to the city calling flood skimming â€śamong the dirtiest of water sources with the risk of high treatment costs,â€ť James Ericson, the Lenard cice president in charge of the study, told the council Wednesday that other water sources could be considered.
Those sources, Ericson said, included the Nepaug Reservoir, owned by the Metropolitan District Commission, which charges New Britain for any water used, and four other water sources that already feed the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir.
â€śThe CEQ mentioned this reservoir would be filled with storm water,â€ť Ericson said in a phone interview hours after the meeting. â€śI wanted to point out that New Britain has five existing water sources that fill Shuttle Meadow Reservoir. Any of those five could be used to fill the future water storage reservoir.â€ť
The move doesnâ€™t make sense, said attorney Paul Zagorsky, a New Britain resident who has led opposition to the project.
â€śNow weâ€™re going to fill this with existing water resources?â€ť he told the council. â€śThere is no gain.â€ť
The CEQ also concluded in its review that Lenard hadnâ€™t made the case that the city needs another reservoir. The study also didnâ€™t include plans to mitigate the destruction of animal and plant life, the CEQ said.
It also left out two city water resources: Patton Brook Well and a Burlington watershed that could be turned into a reservoir,. Both would have less of an environmental impact than the mining of protected watersheds for 40 years, the council concluded.
The study and the project are expected to be debated in the coming weeks as the CEQ and the state Water Planning Council submit their comments on the report to the city.
The city will hold a public hearing on the project this summer.
The state Department of Public Health must approve the plan before it can go forward.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.