‘Shedding’ light on water resources

The Conservation Commission will teach residents how to keep the community’s water resources afloat starting August 29 with its program From Source to Sound: 2012 Know Your Watershed Education Tours, a three-part educational series open to the public.

The first installment of the series, which will focus on the community’s supply of drinking water, will be held at the Bargh Reservoir in Stamford, the largest source of water for Greenwich. According to the town, participants will learn about the Mianus River Watershed and the complex water supply system that provides water to Greenwich, Stamford and parts of Westchester county.

The second installment will follow the flow of tap water to the town’s sewerage treatment plant, and the series will end with a celebration of Long Island Sound on National Estuary Day at Greenwich Point Park.

Denise Savageau, director of the town’s Conservation Commission, said the educational program chiefly focuses on the maintenance of Long Island Sound and the town’s supply of drinking water.

When water is used in the home, it exits into drains, then flows into the sewage treatment plant and back into Long Island Sound which means it is constantly migrating through various systems that must be kept protected, Ms. Savageau said.

A highlight of the watershed program will be participants’ trip to the town’s Grass Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, where they will learn what the town does to maintain water quality. One of the more impressive features of the state-of-the-art facility is its replacement of chlorine with an ultraviolet disinfection system to treat the water, a feature many residents are not currently aware of, Ms. Savageau explained.

Another fact few residents are aware of is that the town’s watershed is part of a regional system shared with Stamford and Westchester county. The community will benefit from understanding that “water supplies often cross political boundaries and our watershed is multi-state and multi-town,” she added.

“We like to point at factories” as the source of water pollution, Ms. Savageau said. “What we now know is that a lot of pollution is about what’s happening in the watershed where we live.”

Pollution more often comes from the community’s homes and streets, she explained. Residents now have a responsibility not only to properly manage water within their homes but to ensure that the town has the correct infrastructure and storm sewers to maintain a clean Long Island Sound.

The most important thing residents will learn from the Source to Sound program, Ms. Savageau said, is how to balance the community’s system of water resources.

Long Island Sound is considered one of the country’s most significant estuaries because it has “one of the most productive ecosystems in the world,” Ms. Savageau explained. The unique species and vegetation found there make for a robust shellfish industry, she added. In fact, Blue Point oysters found in the Sound provide one of the most successful oyster industries in the world.

However, with nine million people living in the Long Island Sound watershed, there is a great deal of pressure to keep the surrounding water resources clean.

“It’s amazing how beautiful and clean [the Sound] is,” but an immense amount of hard work is put into maintaining that status, and the more community members who are aware of it, the better, Ms. Savageau said.

In an effort to get younger members of the community involved in the protection of their water resources, the Source to Sound program will end its educational series with the unveiling of its Greenwich Point Jr. Park Ranger Program.

According to Ms. Savageau, the program provides a variety of fun activities for elementary aged children that help educate them on the environment, with an emphasis on Long Island Sound.

The Source to Sound program is free and open to community members of all ages. Residents are encouraged to join the Conservation Commission for one, two or all three of the tours which take place on August 29, September 12 and September 29. No registration is required.

For more information, visit greenwichct.org.


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