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Why Do We Need A Watershed Plan?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Flooding events in New England during the past week have done as much as anything else to make two points:

  1. What happens anywhere in a watershed impacts everyone in the watershed. Connecticut was spared the worst of the direct impacts felt by Vermont, but now are watching the filthy floodwaters (sewage, cars, debris) swamp and overwash an entire years' worth of investment just at the time when harvests might have begun paying them back.

  2. The prudent thing to do is to invest in resilience and ecological stability now, from the standpoint of acceptable risk to life and livelihoods. "Saving for a rainy day" is a familiar concept most of us grew up with. But since no town or tribe can take this huge burden on alone, and since we are always stronger together, we need to get together on this.

  3. In the past, watershed plans were typically focused on managing pollution and habitat concerns. Better care of the impaired sections of our watershed will be a high priority, but not the only one. Learn more about the health of our waterways at the EPA’s How’s My Waterway website.

What is a Comprehensive, Integrated Watershed Plan?

In the past, watershed plans were typically focused on managing pollution and habitat concerns. Ours will do that, but it will also be comprehensive in the sense that it will address changes in climate and risk to environmental, economic, and social/cultural sectors as well. It will be integrated with each town and tribal council's own planning, such as Stonington's new planning and zoning regulations and Groton's new climate resilience plans.

The Alliance is dedicating its work to orchestrating this collective effort because our mission centers on creating a collaborative culture connected by the headwaters and tributaries to the Mystic River to the Long Island Sound. We also know:

  1. There are significant environmental injustices in the watershed that need to be discussed and addressed if we are to move toward climate challenges together.

  2. There is much to be gained--all of the largest federal and state grants for coastal resilience are collaborative, and a Watershed Plan helps communities touching the watershed to coordinate and prioritize.

  3. Knowledge is power. We want to be sure that the Watershed Plan functions as an accessible repository of locally specific data (both numerical and narrative) that will reveal change over time as well as helping us to pinpoint areas of concern and strength.

  4. Working on something together gives a sense of shared purpose and a focus on something larger than ourselves that builds community resilience. We will come to know each other and create a caring community connected by the waters.

Learn more about about watersheds and what makes them healthy on the EPA's website.

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