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Why Protect Wetlands & Watercourses?

Protection of Our Inland Wetlands & Watercourses

In recent years, the Town of Branford has experienced growth in both commercial and residential development. Residents can dine, take in a movie, shop, hike, golf, and enjoy picturesque open space and water views without ever having to leave town. But these amenities come with a price. The amount of buildable land in Branford has decreased dramatically, which means that development has been occurring in and around environmentally sensitive wetland areas which require proper planning to insure that our inland wetlands and watercourses are protected. Such development is regulated by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency of the Town of Branford.

Why Protect Wetlands?

The State of Connecticut has determined that “The inland wetlands and watercourses of the state of Connecticut are an indispensable and irreplaceable but fragile natural resource with which the citizens of the state have been endowed.” (Connecticut General Statutes [CGS] §22a-36)  Since colonial times, 70% of the wetlands in Connecticut have been filled for agriculture, commercial, industrial, and residential uses. To ensure the future protection of the State’s inland wetlands and watercourses, the Connecticut State Legislature established the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act which, through the CGS §22a-36 through §22a-45d, requires that each municipality establish regulations and a commission to administer the regulations.  

As identified in the Act, wetlands are valuable natural resources for an abundance of reasons: 

  • wildlife habitat
  • aesthetic values
  • recreational uses
  • capacity to reduce flooding and erosion by retaining water during storms
  • help maintain surface water levels
  • protect water quality and filter nutrients
  • support delicate ecosystems which include species from the smallest microscopic bacteria to large mammals

Inland wetlands and watercourses are an invaluable asset to our quality of life and to the preservation of thousands of species. We are all the trusted stewards of these extraordinary, wild areas.  The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency of the town of Branford, by careful review of each application, strives to preserve these areas for the benefit of all.  

But one does not need to be a member of the Commission to help preserve the quality of our wetlands and watercourses. We can all make a difference.  

  • If we have wetlands on our property, we can establish and maintain a natural area between our lawns and the wetland by planting only species native to Connecticut.  
  • By limiting pesticide and chemical fertilizer use on our lawns, we can reduce or eliminate harmful contaminates from entering our rivers and streams. The second picture in the above gallery depicts a eutrophic pond covered in algae. Eutrophication in fresh water is typically caused by high phosphorous levels. Phosphorous is a nutrient that enters the pond primarily by storm water that has picked up fertilizer and animal droppings from lawns and agriculture. Phosphorus encourages algae growth, which causes a decrease in oxygen levels. Mortality rates of animals and submergent plants rise dramatically when ponds are in a eutrophic state. A stagnant odor and a thick, green surface layer of algae are indicators of eutrophication of ponds.
  • By keeping up with maintenance on our cars, we can reduce the amount of toxic fluids carried into our wetlands by stormwater. 
  • We can volunteer to pick up litter which would otherwise end up in a storm drain. 
  • We can clean up after our pets and not discharge waste into our storm drains. 
  • Above all we can help to educate others. 

Please explore our website to see how you as a resident can help protect our wetlands and watercourses.  Together we can, as stated in the Connecticut General Statutes, “provide for the safety of such natural resources for their benefit, and for the benefit of generations yet unborn."

Last Updated: Fri, 06/14/2019 - 1:22pm