Maintaining high quality water resources is critical for both human consumption and to support natural ecosystems. The majority of Woodstock residents obtain their drinking water from private or small public onsite wells. In A Plan of Open Space and Conservation, the Woodstock Conservation Commission made a series of recommendations designed to protect water quality in the future, including: establishing aquifer overlay protection zones, inventorying important aquifer recharge areas, including clear watershed protection goals in the Plan of Conservation and Development, limiting the impacts of impervious surfaces in Woodstock, establishing riparian protection zones, protect in critical areas of public water supply watershed from improper land uses, classifying wetlands by their functional value, and protecting vernal pools. Bacteria, nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, sediment (soil), toxic substances (e.g., heavy metals, oil and grease, and pesticides), trash, and airborne pollutants (e.g., acid rain) threaten water quality. Invasive plants (e.g, purple loosestrife, water chestnut, Eurasian watermilfoil) can cause great harm to natural ecosystems.
You can help prevent or control pollution of watersheds by paying attention to the following Do's and Don'ts:
The following links provide more information about what you, as a homeowner, can do to help protect the quality of Woodstock's groundwater and surface water.
References: Please consult appropriate regulatory agencies for specific requirements
Vernal pools are small, isolated wetlands that hold water on a temporary basis, most often during winter and spring. They might be as small as a living room or as big as a football field, and can occur deep in the forest, in open wetlands, and in low spots in land. They are filled by the spring's rising water table or snow run-off. Because they don't have an above-ground outlet for water, they are usually gone by late summer. *
Vernal pools are very important to the life cycle of many amphibians, as they are too shallow and short-lived to support fish that would eat the amphibian eggs or larvae. Vernal pools and their adjacent upland habitats encourage biodiversity by supporting an abundance of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates not found in other areas.
Species that depend on vernal pools for successful breeding include fairy shrimp (inch-long crustaceans with a lifespan of just a few weeks); spotted, marbled and Jefferson salamanders; eastern spadefoot toads; and wood frogs. A wide variety of other forest animals, including birds, turtles, snakes, and small and large mammals also use these pools for feeding and resting. In addition, these "sylvan gems" are aesthetically pleasing, with moss-covered logs, delicate hues of greens and browns, and dappled sunlight shining through forest cover.
However, because they are small, hard to identify, and subject to limited regulation, they are often impacted by development. As a result, vernal pools - and the species that depend on them - are rapidly disappearing.
Many vernal pool amphibians go back to breed in the pools where they were born. If the pool is disturbed or destroyed by development, the amphibians show little tendency to relocate. It is also important to remember that these animals rely on both vernal pools and connecting upland terrestrial habitats for survival, spending about 11 out of 12 months each year in adjacent uplands, forests and wetlands.
Even a relatively small degree of development (25% of surrounding critical terrestrial habitat) can negatively impact vernal pool wildlife. For example, one study done in Massachusetts found that when 25 acres of upland forest next to a vernal pool was cleared, the pool's wood frog population became locally extinct, despite a 150-foot-wide forested buffer around the pool and a forested wetland corridor adjacent to the pool.
The most valuable vernal pools are:
Vernal pools, like Atlantic Cedar Swamps, are critical habitats that we must continue to work together to protect. Mechanisms include acquisition by a conservation organization like a land trust; conservation easements; employment of best management practices to integrate design, engineering and natural resource protection into developments; zoning/ordinances; and last but not least, voluntary stewardship programs by landowners.
*According to A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools by Kenney and Burne, "many of our larger vernal pools persist for several years before drying". And according to Elizabeth Colburn's book Vernal Pools: Natural History and Conservation when defining the hydrology of vernal pools, states "they dry up annually or every few years - standing water either disappears completely, or water levels drop substantially durning the summer, exposing most of the pool bottom and retaining only a fraction of the peak volume".
Are you interested in exploring a vernal pool this season? Contact CFPA's education director, Emma, to set up a program! If you can get a small group together (~5-15 individuals), let us know: email@example.com.
Source: AMC Outdoors Magazine, April 2005
Source: Connecticut Sea Grant Fact Sheet #10
Ground water is the water that fills cracks and other openings in beds of rocks and sand. It is a renewable resource that is naturally replenished by precipitation. There are more than 16 million wells in the U.S., tapping ground water for private and public supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, power, and other purposes. About 1/3 of Connecticut's population get their drinking water from ground water. (Source: National Ground Water Association). Also, since ground water is the baseflow for most rivers, streams and wetlands, its quality is inextricably linked to surface water quality.
Illustration Source: ©The Groundwater Foundation
The majority of people in Woodstock, CT obtain their water from private wells. Ground water in Woodstock is generally very good. While the ground is an excellent mechanism for filtering out particulate matter such as leaves, soil, and bugs. However, because Connecticut's major aquifer systems are shallow (typically less than 300 feet deep, with the water table within 50 feet of the land surface) they are susceptible to contamination. Underground water can get contaminated from industrial, domestic, and agricultural chemicals applied to the ground surface. The most common water quality problem in rural areas is bacterial contamination from septic tanks. Excess nitrogen near agricultural areas can also be a problem. Shallow wells can be more at risk than deeper, drilled wells.
The American Ground Water Trust recommends that all homeowners have their well water tested annually by a certified laboratory. Minimum testing should include coliform bacteria, nitrate and pH (acidity). If the pH is below 7.0, also test for lead, especially in homes built before 1987. If your well is near an operational or abandoned gas station or buried fuel storage, they recommend testing for volatile organic carbons (VOCs).
The National Ground Water Association suggests you have your well equipment inspected annually by a licensed and/or certified water well contractor. This inspection, along with water testing, will assure your well equipment is sanitary and meets local code requirements.
The Woodstock Conservation Commission has been working with Marc Cohen of the Atlantic States Rural Water and Wastewater Association on strategies to protect Woodstock’s drinking water supply.
Under Section 7-131a of the Connecticut General Statutes, a Conservation Commission can inventory natural resources and formulate watershed management and drought management plans. The WCC conducted an extensive natural resource inventory before developing A Plan of Open Space and Conservation (APOSC). One of the goals in the APOSC was to “Establish Aquifer Overlay Protection Zones” to protect existing and future underground water supplies.
One of our most important natural resources is a potentially high-yielding aquifer in the southeastern part of Woodstock. While the Town of Woodstock is not legally required to do this, it is important as a town to carefully consider the types of land uses that should be allowed over this vital resource. Our businesses and citizens may need to rely on the source of water for future growth.
While no large public wells are currently withdrawing water from this aquifer, and as Town of Putnam is currently permitted to withdraw water from Little River in South Woodstock, it is unlikely a large public well would be permitted at this time. However, there are indications that the Town of Putnam may reduce their reliance on Little River as a drinking water source as they improve the water filtration system at their Park Street well field. Either way, water quality in this aquifer is key to water quality in the Little River.
Aquifers situated on stratified drift deposits are highly vulnerable to contamination from certain aboveground land uses. Therefore, the WCC believes it would be wise to review land use regulations over the aquifer’s major recharge areas, and evaluate whether we should further limit certain activities above these areas that could degrade water quality over the long term. The WCC will be holding a series of meetings to discuss and review this project. Our goal is to develop a set of draft regulations to submit to the Woodstock Planning & Zoning Commission for review.
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The Conservation Commission of the Town of Woodstock, CT, is responsible for the information on these pages.
If you encounter problems, or have questions or feedback on this website, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We welcome your input on how our outreach efforts can be improved. All information on this website is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with the appropriate regulatory agencies for specific requirements. Note that the presence of a link or listing on this site does not constitute endorsement or approval by the Town of Woodstock.
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