What Does “Balance” Mean? What Should It Look Like?

The draft Connecticut State Water Plan, and the State law that authorizes the creation of the plan, recommend “ the utilization of the state’s water resources … in a manner that balances public water supply, economic development, recreation, and ecological health. In one part of the document, the plan calls for a balance in the use of “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water”— the latter being water removed from the river for other human purposes.

Below is an extended excerpt from the Jonah Center’s comment on the draft Water Plan, submitted in November 2017. All residents are invited and encouraged to submit comments on the plan by November 20, 2017. The final draft of the plan is expected to be released in January 2018, after which it will go before the State Legislature for an up or down vote. We support a “yes” vote on the plan, but urge that definition be given to the term balance.

“Balance” is an agreeable-sounding term. Who can oppose “balance”? But we need to face the question: what should this balance really look like? The plan refers to achieving a balance between “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water” – the latter going to a variety of purposes beyond drinking water supply, such as industrial processes, agriculture irrigation, lawn and golf course irrigation, car washing, and others. Surely, a balance between “in-stream” and “out-of-stream” uses would not divide a river’s flow by assigning 50% to each. So how would “balance” be defined? Any useful definition should recognize that, when water supply is threatened, or when a river is literally going dry, some uses of water have a greater claim to moral legitimacy than others. Most important, when it comes to our environmental needs in the largest sense — insuring long-term sustainability in the relationship between humans and other forms of life, the forms of life we ultimately depend on for our own health and survival — the goal of “balance” is not a nicety whose meaning should be assumed to be universally agreed upon.  Continue reading

Middletown’s New Policy On Sidewalks & Snow Removal

City residents should take note of a new policy, and new ordinance, on sidewalk snow removal.  In the past, property owners could be fined for failure to remove snow and ice from sidewalks after snow storms. Under the new policy, those who fail to remove snow and ice within 24 hours after a storm will still be fined, but the fine will increase for each violation.

Also, and perhaps most significant, in the past the fines did not always accomplish the goal of getting the sidewalk cleared, leaving the situation still dangerous for children walking to school and for other pedestrians.  (Perhaps some property owners found it more convenient to pay the fine than to get the work done. Maybe they didn’t pay the fine.) But under the new ordinance, the City may hire someone to remove the snow and bill the property owner for the job,  then place a lien on the property if the bill is not paid.

Below is the actual ordinance.  It’s another step toward safer walking conditions–in other words, Complete Streets–in Middletown!

Sidewalk shoveling ordinance 2017-09

 

It’s Time To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

The Jonah Center reminds residents to take advantage of the State’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program, and other low-cost, high-return opportunities to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. This program, subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, reduces home utility costs, on average, by $200 per year. The co-pay for HES is $149 for most residents, or $0 for income-eligible residents (up to 60% of the state’s median income level). Your home will have air leaks sealed, energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads installed, and insulation evaluated. Low cost, subsidized insulation options are also available. Every HES visit earns your municipality credits towards energy efficiency grants that your community can use to improve its energy portfolio. The Jonah Center, along with the City of Middletown, continues to partner with New England Conservation Services, the company that actually performs the service. Call NECS at 877-389-7077 or visit their website at https://www.neconserves.com/ for more information.

Air Line Trail Ground-Breaking Ceremony

Construction work has begun on Portland’s section of the Air Line Trail.  The ground-breaking ceremony took place at the Keegan Trail Head on Saturday, October 28.

The Jonah Center congratulates the Air Line Trail Steering Committee, co-chaired by Rosario Rizzo and Louis Pear, for successfully guiding the project to this point.  The Jonah Center played a key role in starting the project and  recruiting Steering Committee members in 2014. More information on the history and goals of this project can be viewed here.

Community Bike Ride on September 9, 9-10 a.m.

Pedal Power invites you to participate in a relaxing ride across town and along the Connecticut River. Just a few minutes from the bustle of our lovely downtown, we’ll be on River Road, pedaling through one of the many green wooded areas of central CT and keeping our eyes out for eagles and osprey. Our speed is the relaxed pace of the slowest rider, and the route is “out and back,” so you can always turn around if you find it too challenging. Children under 16 are welcome with an accompanying adult. Helmets are required. Meet in front of the Pedal Power Bike Shop at 359 Main Street, Middletown.

Water Chestnut Pull — Saturday, Aug. 5, 9 a.m.

Another work party to remove water chestnut plants from the Mattabesset River’s Floating Meadows is scheduled for Saturday morning, August 5, at 9 a.m.  We have made much progress in removing these invasive aquatic plants through earlier efforts this season, but a couple of patches and some stray or recently emerged plants remain.  Canoes and kayakers will gather and launch at the Phil Salafia Canoe and Kayak Launch at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown.

This perhaps final effort for the summer will be led by Alicea Charamut of the Connecticut River Conservancy, formerly known as the Connecticut River Watershed Association.  Participants are asked to pre-register with Alicea by email at acharamut@ctriver.org or by calling (860) 704-0057.

Gloves and bags will be provided. Participants, as usual, need to provide their own canoes, kayaks, lifejackets, and water.

 

An Evening with Henry David Thoreau

Henry David ThoreauThis year is the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth, and to celebrate, Mattabeseck Audubon Society, the Rockfall Foundation, and the Jonah Center are co-sponsoring a program, “An Evening with Henry David Thoreau”, with Thoreau impersonator Richard Smith, a historian and staff member of the Thoreau Society in Concord, MA. The program is scheduled to be held on Thursday, September 28 at 7:00 pm at the deKoven House in Middletown.

 

A Victory For Natural Turf Care, Children’s Health, and the Environment

The Jonah Center, along with Ecoin, Project Green Lawn, and other environmental organizations successfully pursued adoption of a City of Middletown ordinance  to protect children from toxic lawn chemicals. The Common Council voted 11-1 in favor of the ordinance amendment at its meeting on July 3, 2017.  Many Council members also voiced strong support for whatever funds and staff training will be necessary to implement the “non-toxic” field maintenance practices similar to those used by the Town of Branford. Reducing the use of fertilizers and herbicides helps the environment, since these chemicals pollute local streams, rivers, and Long Island Sound.

While the immediate goal of ordinance passage has been achieved, we need to remain vigilant and supportive of full implementation of the new practices.  We also need to convince the wider community to avoid using lawn chemicals. The Project Green Lawn Brochure is our best local resource on lawn care without chemicals.

If you wish to stay involved in the campaign against pesticides and other harmful lawn chemicals, please sign the petition below. This will enable us to add your email address to  our “lawn chemical action network” so you will receive any action alerts or important news on this topic.

I support the Amendment Regarding Natural Turf Care to Protect Human Health and the Environment, and its specific goal: Protecting children from exposure to toxic pesticides by avoiding use of such chemicals not only on K-8 school grounds (as state law now requires) but on all city-owned recreational fields, regardless of the age of the persons using the fields.

Sign Petition:

Resolution On Natural Turf Care and Children's Health

I support the Amendment Regarding Natural Turf Care to Protect Human Health and the Environment, and its specific goal: Protecting children from exposure to toxic pesticides by avoiding use of such chemicals not only on K-8 school grounds (as state law now requires) but on all city-owned fields, regardless of the age of the persons using the fields.

**your signature**

173 signatures

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Latest Signers
173 Kim Konte Non Toxic Irvine Irvine
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159 suzanne oconnell Middletown

 

Paddle With A Purpose – July 8 at 9 a.m. (rain date Sun. 7/9, 9 a.m.)

The aquatic plant known as water chestnut (trapa natans) showed its invasive potential last summer at many points along the Connecticut River and its tributaries. In our own Floating Meadows, the freshwater, tidal marshland formed where the lower Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers converge, the presence of these plants was first recorded in 2009.  The Jonah Center has been monitoring the area closely since 2013, pulling out a few plants each year through 2015.

The summer of 2016 was different! Water chestnut proliferated as we have never seen before, forming expansive, dense patches at multiple locations. Left unchecked, these plants can choke off sunlight and oxygen, threatening native plants, fish, fish-eating birds and other aquatic species. Some waterways, including local ones, have become impassible by water chestnut infestations.

For the coming season, paddles were held on June 10, June 24, and the third is planned for Saturday, July 8, 9-11  a.m. (The time of the July 8 paddled has been changed to 9 a.m. because wind conditions on the earlier afternoon paddles were a major obstacle to progress. In case of bad weather on July, we will attempt to go out on Sunday, July 9, at 9 a.m.) Canoes and kayaks will start and finish at the launch site at 181 Johnson Street, adjacent to Middletown’s recycling center. For each of these outings, we need many volunteers, including those with access to motorboats. Here’s why.

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