The Mill River may be about to get a lot cleaner, but it won’t happen overnight.
Nicole Davis offered that news Wednesday night at the latest monthly meeting at City Hall of New Haven’s Environmental Advisory Council.
Davis, Mill River Watershed coordinator for the advocacy group Save The Sound, detailed the group’s developing plan to identify and reduce pollution entering the river and improve water quality through green infrastructure — like rain gardens and bioswales and low-impact development to capture contamination and catch stormwater before it enters the river.
Davis leads a steering committee for project including a mixture of volunteers and municipal staff. The team has received $79,000 from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which has identified several sections of the river that have been impaired.
“The whole purpose of putting this together is not only to organize stakeholders, but to organize projects where we’re going to get the most bang for our buck and what’s going to have the most impact,” Davis said.
Davis said New Haven’s West River and Quinnipiac River already have watershed protection plans.
Save the Sound (which merged with Connecticut Fund for the Environment) is working to comply with nine requirements to have the project earn a federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Watershed Based Plan. “One of the advantages of having an EPA federally approved plan is that it opens up additional federal funding sources in addition to the benefits of using a method that’s been proven to work as a framework,” Davis said.
Davis said she expects to have a draft plan prepared by the end of August. The team will hold public meetings in September in order to workshop the initiatives before elected officials in each of the watershed towns sign a compact in October saying they support efforts to improve water quality.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Environmental Advisory Council Chair Laura Cahn promised her group will encourage people to volunteer with theSave the Sound project and spread the word.
“Whatever we need to do, we’ll do,” Cahn said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” EAC member Henry Auer said of the project. “Anything we can do to enhance the natural environment of a waterway is certainly very desirable.”
To get involved in the Mill River plan, click here for information about upcoming meetings.