Department of Environmental Protection
At a Glance
GINA McCARTHY, Commissioner
Amey Marrella, Deputy Commissioner of Air, Waste and Water
Established – 1971
Statutory authority – CGS Public Act 872, 1971
Central office – 79 Elm Street,
Hartford, CT 06106-5127
Average number of full-time employees – 985
Recurring operating expenses - $129,400,000
Organizational structure – Office of the Commissioner: Offices of Chief of Staff (including Communications and Education, Indian Affairs, Environmental Justice and Publications); Affirmative Action; Planning and Program Development (including Permit Ombudsman and Enforcement Policy and Coordination); Information Management; Legal Counsel; and Adjudications. Bureau of Financial Support Services: Divisions of Agency Support Services; Financial Management; and Human Resources.
Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Air, Waste and Water – Bureau of Air Management: Division of Compliance & Field Operations; Engineering & Technical Services; Planning & Standards; Radiation. Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance: State Emergency Response Commission; Divisions of Engineering & Enforcement; Emergency Response and Spill Prevention; and Permitting and Enforcement (water-related activities). Bureau of Water Planning and Land Reuse: Divisions of Inland Water Resources; Remediation; Planning & Standards; and the Office of Long Island Sound Programs.
Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Conservation – Bureau of Natural Resources: Planning, Coordination & Fiscal Management; Divisions of Forestry; Inland Fisheries; Marine Fisheries; Wildlife. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation: Planning, Coordination & Fiscal Management; Divisions of Boating; Land Acquisition & Management; Law Enforcement; State Parks.
It is the mission of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conserve, improve and protect the natural resources and environment of the State of Connecticut; to control air, land and water pollution in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Connecticut; and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Long Island Sound Study (LISS). The study, a partnership between the states of Connecticut and New York, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was initiated to investigate the environmental problems of the Sound and to develop an ecosystem-based management plan for the estuary. Significant progress has been made the past twenty years in protecting and restoring the Sound, with many of the initial monitoring and research objectives having been met and the overall health of the Sound continuing to improve. As part of this initiative, the states and EPA developed a long-term Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan that focused not only on the Sound, but on the entire watershed. As a result, a number of projects and efforts have been initiated over the years on the Sound and inland to protect its waters and restore its habitat.
Among the objectives was the restoration of 100 river miles of anadromous fish passage as well as the restoration of coastal, tidal, and subtidal habitat. In 2005, nearly 25 river miles were opened up for fish passage and as of December 2005, over 90 miles of river passage has been restored since 1998. In addition to this accomplishment, more than 586 acres of coastal habitat has been restored in the same timeframe.
Improving the water quality of Long Island Sound has been a primary objective of the DEP for more than two decades. That effort continued in 2005 and 2006 with the Department’s effort to pursue designation of all of Connecticut coastal waters as a no-discharge area (NDA). In the late spring of 2006, EPA approved Connecticut’s third NDA – a stretch of the Sound from Groton to Guilford. In addition, the DEP has proposed a fourth area to EPA for this designation – Guilford to Greenwich, which, once approved, will mean that all of Connecticut’s waters in the Sound will be designated as No Discharge Areas. Designation as a NDA means that boats in the area must use pumpout facilities to discharge their septic waste. Eliminating the release of sewage from boats to the NDA will reduce manmade nutrient loading and exposure to bacterial pathogens in swimming areas, shellfish beds, and other environmentally sensitive aquatic habitats.
The DEP achieved some major accomplishments along its waterways. Primary among these accomplishments were the settlement of the Shepaug River (Roxbury, Washington, and Southbury) suit and the restoration of fishes to the Shetucket River (Norwich area). In 2005, a settlement was reached that ended a decade-long dispute over reservoir releases into the Shepaug River. The agreement commits the city of Waterbury to release significant volumes of water to the river during the summer from the city’s reservoir system. The releases seek to restore as much of the Shepaug’s natural flow as possible, thereby improving the overall health of the river while enhancing aesthetics and recreational opportunities. Also in 2005, Connecticut residents saw the restoration of migratory fishes to the Shetucket River with the establishment of the Taftville and Occum fishways. As a result of these fishways nine miles of mainstream along the Shetucket were opened to the migration of American shad, gizzard shad, alewife, blueback herring, sea-run trout, sea lamprey, and American eel.
Initiated in 1995, the Jordan Cove Urban Watershed National Monitoring Project in Waterford was completed in 2005. This one-of-a-kind project involved building two distinct neighborhoods – one with traditional construction design features built on quarter-acre lots, the second with clustered housing and numerous Best Management Practices (BMPs) utilized to reduce storm water pollution. Ten years after pre-construction monitoring began the data showed that reducing the amount of impervious surfaces such as road and driveway surfaces, and infiltrating the remaining runoff, significantly reduces the amount of polluted storm water entering waterways. The project and its results are being used a national model in the development of environmentally sensitive subdivisions.
Throughout the course of the year the DEP has been engaged in a stakeholder process to update the state’s Solid Waste Management Plan. The draft plan, which is going thorough a formal hearing process, explores opportunities to reduce the amount of waste generated in the state and increase the amount of recycling and reuse in an environmentally protective manner. Among the objectives put forth in the plan are: source reduction; recycling and composting; disposal capacity; education and outreach; and funding.
For several years the DEP has been involved in two comprehensive resource-planning efforts – the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Both plans received federal approval last year. The Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy creates a roadmap that will guide the state’s approach to protecting wildlife species and habitats for the next decade. Connecticut’s SCORP, approved in September 2005, assessed the supply of all state, municipal and private recreational properties and facilities, and measured public demand for recreation using three surveys of 10,000 households, of municipal officials and of avid recreationists. The DEP will utilize the information collected in the preparation of both of these plans to formulate strategies aimed at achieving both the short and long-term objectives outlined within.
Building off of the successful approval of the Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan 2005, the DEP, along with a number of other state agencies and partners continued work to implement a number of the 55 recommendations outlined in the plan. Actions taken by Connecticut last year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include: participating, with six other states, in the first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in the US; committing $1 billion for an ambitious mass transit program that will improve the quality and quantity of service for commuters; adopted the Energy Independence Act, putting the state at the forefront of developing many new energy strategies; and adopting regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions from cars and light trucks by 30 percent, becoming one of only 10 states to do so.