Issue 4.1 January 2016
  A Newsletter for 
 Municipal Inland Wetlands Agencies 
   CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,  Inland Water Resources Division
NewsLetterWebPicture2
   
   IN THIS ISSUE Contents
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
From DEEP's Inland Wetlands Management Section
Connecticut's municipal inland wetlands agencies play a vital role in managing and protecting inland wetlands and watercourses, and consequently in shaping our State's landscape. The DEEP wants to extend its appreciation to every agency member and staff for their commitment to administering Connecticut's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act.
               
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead




10 NEW YEAR TIPSNewYearTips
For CT's Municipal Inland Wetlands Agencies
With the New Year, the traditional activity is to make a resolution, a promise that you will be a better version of yourself in the coming year. Typical resolutions include eating healthy, exercising, spending more time with your kids, or pursuing a new hobby or education. This time of year is also great for "house-keeping" activities, to de-clutter and finish tasks you've put off, to make a fresh start. In the spirit of saying good bye to the old and ushering in the new, the DEEP's Wetlands Management Section (WMS) offers the following list of 10 municipal inland wetlands agency year-end items to complete, and New Year resolutions to place on the calendar!    

1.  UPDATE AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
In 2016 the WMS will announce training opportunities and provide other information via email to staff.  If there has been a change in staff, or an office has moved, complete the web-based form to provide current data.  If your agency does not have municipal staff support, please provide an email for the agency's chair.  

2.  REVISE YOUR REGULATIONS
Each year the Connecticut General Assembly meets to draft, debate and pass new laws; or amendments to existing laws. The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act is, at times, subjected to this process. The WMS provides annual legislation and regulation advisories to municipal inland wetlands agencies. Have you incorporated the latest changes? The advisories are available on the WMS's " Legislation, Regulation & Case Law" web page.   
 
3.  SUBMIT REPORTING FORMS
The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act requires municipal inland wetlands agencies to submit information to the DEEP for each action taken by the agency. The WMS provides a form for agencies to use in order to meet this mandate. The reporting form, known as the Statewide Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Activity Reporting Form, should be mailed to the DEEP on a monthly basis. The WMS offers both a PDF version of the form, and an electronic fill-in  Word version that can be saved to your computer.    

4.  IMPROVE YOUR AGENCY'S PERMIT APPLICATION
Does your agency still use the same permit application that was created in the early 1980's? It is important to periodically review your permit application to ensure the information you need to make an informed decision is being provided.  Perhaps the agency's regulations have changed, or maybe the agency wants to consider new technology or best management practices, does your application address these changes or new inquiries?  Don't forget to schedule application "check-ups" on a recurring basis.   

5.  SCHEDULE TRAINING
The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act mandates that at least one member of the inland wetlands agency or staff of the agency shall complete the comprehensive training program developed by the DEEP. The Municipal Inland Wetlands Agency Comprehensive Training Program is an online course offered through Central CT State University. The course is open for registration and completion from approximately April through December. In addition, the WMS offers various continuing education workshops. Of particular importance is the annual legal and administrative updates workshop offered in May or June. Information regarding these training opportunities will be emailed (see #1 above) to every municipal inland wetlands agency in the spring. Mark your calendars to check the WMS's Training Program Gateway web page in mid-April for updates.  

6.  CONDUCT IN-HOUSE TRAINING
Did you know that the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act states that each inland wetlands agency shall hold a meeting at least once annually wherein information summarizing the provisions of DEEP's training program is presented? Many agencies conduct training for their members using the three fantastic training DVDs available on the WMS's web page. Consider scheduling 15 minutes before each regularly scheduled meeting to view a portion of a DVD; or schedule your own training by inviting your town attorney to present information or even a consultant to explain a technical matter.  

7.  RECORD ALL MEETINGS
The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act does not require the recording of municipal inland wetlands agency meetings. However, to ensure an accurate record regarding a particular application or matter before the agency, the WMS encourages the recording of all regularly scheduled meetings, in addition to public hearings. Remember, the "record" is generally the only thing a judge will review when an appeal is brought from an agency decision. Deliberating out loud, discussing what facts applied to which factors, are crucial to the decision of the inland wetlands agency. Minutes may not fully reflect the basis of expert opinions or other information the agency relied on in making their decision.  

8.  BRUSH UP ON PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules for conduct at meetings that allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion. Many inland wetlands agencies have adapted Robert's Rules of Order to fit their needs. Some towns and cities have established an ordinance or bylaws which state how meetings are to be run. How does your agency handle the conduct of meetings?  

9.  ENCOURAGE AGENCY MEMBERS TO JOIN THIS E-NEWSLETTER
The WMS e-newsletter provides an easy way for inland wetlands agency members and staff to obtain timely announcements, reminders, updated guidance, and information on a variety of wetland and watercourse management issues. The DEEP offers a variety of e-newsletters ranging from flood management issues to fishing to recycling. You can join the inland wetlands or any of the other DEEP e-newsletters in a few simple clicks of the mouse. Past e-newsletters are available too!  

10.  REACH OUT TO YOUR TOWN OR CITY'S CITIZENS
In the hectic world we live in we often have little time to pursue hobbies or other interests. Many municipalities are finding it difficult to seat members on various commissions. This is alarming as inland wetlands agencies are at the forefront of wetland and watercourse protection and management in Connecticut. Reach out to your town or city's citizens and encourage them to participate. If a person is concerned about the amount of time required, perhaps they will be willing to be an alternate. If someone is unsure of the knowledge or skills needed to be an agency member then welcome them to participate in the DEEP's Municipal Inland Wetlands Agency Comprehensive Training Program online course, or to view the WMS's web pages, to obtain information before making a commitment.





SHARE KNOWLEDGE! TrainingOpportunities
2016 Statewide Training Opportunities
sharing_knowledge_graphic.jpg
In addition to the DEEP's Municipal Inland Wetlands Agency Comprehensive Training Program and continuing education workshops, other entities offer classes and conferences that may be of interest to inland wetlands agencies and their staff. 

* The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act ensures citizen access to the records and meetings of public agencies, including municipal inland wetlands agencies; and The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) hears complaints from persons who have been denied access to such records or meetings. The FOIC regularly conducts educational workshops and speaking engagements for public agencies. A schedule of FOIC speaking engagements, and other valuable information, is available on the Commission's website.  

* The Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) organizes a Connecticut Land Use Law for Municipal Land Use Agencies, Boards and Commissions seminar every other year. The next seminar is anticipated for the spring of 2017.  CBA periodically conducts a similar program for attorneys.  Remind your town attorney that CBA may be offering this important training opportunity in spring 2016.  In addition, CBA offers civic education classes to the public free of charge. The Adult Civics Education Program covers a wide range of areas, from wiretapping to eminent domain to the death penalty, so that students can better understand the intricacies of civics and American government. Classes range from one one-hour program to four two-hour classes. Lesson plans and training are provided by CBA. For more information on the programs please contact the Connecticut Bar Association at (860) 612-2025 or civicsed@ctbar.org.  

* The Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) provides information and assistance to land use decision makers and other audiences in support of better land use decisions, healthier natural resources, and more resilient communities. CLEAR research, outreach and training programs address the overlapping issues of water management, land use planning, climate resiliency, and geospatial (mapping) technology. Training is offered through three channels: 1) Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) provides information, education and assistance to local land use boards and commissions on how they can accommodate growth while protecting their natural resources and community character.  NEMO workshops are free of charge, and most take about 1 hour. A variety of topics can be presented ranging from planning for stormwater to natural resource-based planning for watersheds; 2) the Land Use Academy offers day-long training covering the roles and responsibilities of all land use commissions and map reading for site plan review; and 3) the Geospatial Training Program offers training in geospatial technologies to town officials and town staff in geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and new, rapidly evolving technologies designed to make maps and geospatial data available over the internet. Note: the Land Use Academy training is separate and distinct from the DEEP Municipal Inland Wetlands Agency Comprehensive Training Program and continuing education workshops provided pursuant to the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act.  

* The Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions (CACIWC) conducts an annual conference in early November. The conference offers a variety of mini-workshops on the legal and technical aspects of wetland and watercourse management. View  CACIWC's website for conference information and other resources.  

* The Connecticut Association of Wetland Scientists (CAWS) promotes the profession and understanding of wetland science in Connecticut. CAWS designs and develops programs to educate the membership and the public in the study of wetlands and the profession of wetland science. The CAWS annual meeting provides a day full of diverse current topics in wetland science. View the CAWS website for upcoming events.  

* The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), a partnership between DEEP and UConn, is a multi-disciplinary center that brings together a variety of experts ranging from natural sciences to engineering and finance to provide practical solutions to problems arising as a result of a changing climate. The Institute will help coastal and inland waterway communities in Connecticut better adapt to changes in climate and also make their human-built infrastructure more resilient while protecting valuable ecosystems and the services they offer.  Check CIRCA's calendar of events for upcoming outreach and extension activities.   

* The Climate Adaptation Academy, a partnership of Connecticut Sea Grant, NOAA, CLEAR and the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, provides information on current adaptation research, policy and practice, and serves to promote an exchange of information between municipal officials, researchers, and other professionals.   View the Climate Adaptation Academy's web page  for future workshops and presentations.

Return to Table of Contents




    Collins Company Dam, Canton
NEW DEEP DAM SAFETY PERMITS
Notice Requirement to Municipalities DamNewGenPermits
Dams have been an important part of Connecticut's history and infrastructure, facilitating the production of grain, wood and other manufacturing products; and enabling water supply, flood control, mechanical power and fire protection. Connecticut began to exercise regulatory oversight of dams and reservoirs in 1878. Currently, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's (DEEP) Inland Water Resources Division (IWRD), is charged with administering and enforcing our state's dam safety laws.

The IWRD maintains a computerized inventory of over 4,000 dams. Of these, approximately 3,000 fall under the DEEP's regulation because their failure might endanger persons or property.  The remaining dams are typically small and do not pose a significant hazard to the public.
 
Keeping dams safe involves routine maintenance and repair.  Failure to undertake regular inspection and identification of needed maintenance can result in dams becoming unsound and a dangerous liability.  Connecticut law (CGS section 22a-409) requires that existing dams, dikes and similar structures be registered and periodically inspected to assure that their continued operation and use does not constitute a hazard to life, health or property.  The law (CGS section 22a-403) also requires that a permit be obtained from IWRD to construct, repair or alter dams, dikes or similar structures.
 
The IWRD has developed three new Dam Safety General Permits.  These general permits provide a quick process authorization for many dam-related minor activities which have only minimal environmental impacts.  The general permits, filing forms, a notice form, and fact sheets are available on the DEEP's general permit web page.  Large scale projects will require an Individual Permit

Persons intending to conduct an activity authorized by a Dam Safety General Permit must provide written notice of such intention to the municipal inland wetlands agency using a form provided by the DEEP.  Notice is to be provided a minimum of two weeks prior to the initiation of the activity, except in the case of a dam removal where notice shall be delivered to the municipality a minimum of sixty days prior to the initiation of the activity.  Municipal inland wetlands agencies may contact the IWRD's Dam Safety Section's permitting staff at 860-424-3706 with questions or concerns regarding activity on or around a dam; or may contact the IWRD's Environmental Analysis Section at 860-424-3019 with concerns regarding impacts to wetland or watercourse resources from dam related activities, or municipal jurisdiction regarding such resources.    

Additional information regarding dam permitting, inspection and enforcement processes can be found on the
Dam Safety Section web page.

Return to Table of Contents




  
LogoAddressWeb
    
  
The Connecticut Department  of Energy and Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity  Employer that is committed to complying with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   Please contact us at  860-418-5910 or d eep.accommodations@ct.gov  if you: have a disability and need a communication aid or service;  have limited proficiency in English and may need information in  another language; or if you wish  to file an  ADA or Title VI discrimination complaint. 
  
A Newsletter for Municipal Inland Wetlands Agencies is published by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Inland Water Resources Division, Wetlands Management Section.  Editor: Darcy Winther, (860) 424-3019.