Region 1: EPA New England

Pootatuck FR

Updated Contact Information
Jeff Butensky • (617) 918-1665

(Cite as: 55 FR 11055)




Sole Source Aquifer Designation for the Pootatuck Aquifer, Connecticut

Monday, March 26, 1990

*11055 AGENCY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: In response to a petition from State Representative Mae Schmidle of the 106th District of Connecticut, notice is hereby given that the Regional Administrator, Region I, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Pootatuck Aquifer satisfies all determination criteria for designation as a sole source aquifer, pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The designation criteria include the following: The Pootatuck Aquifer is the sole source of drinking water for the residents of that area; there are no viable alternative sources of sufficient supply; the boundaries of the designated area and project review area have been reviewed and approved by EPA; and if contamination were to occur, it would pose a significant public health hazard and a serious financial burden to the area's residents. As a result of this action, all federal financially assisted projects proposed for construction or modification within the Pootatuck River Watershed will be subject to EPA review to reduce the risk of ground water contamination from these projects.

DATES: This determination shall be promulgated for purposes of judicial review two weeks after publication in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: The data upon which these findings are based are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, J.F.K. Federal Building, Water Management Division, GWP-2113, Boston, MA 02203. The designation petition submitted may also be inspected at the Newtown Public Library in Newtown, Connecticut.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert E. Mendoza, Chief of the Ground Water Management Section, Water Management Division, EPA Region I, J.F.K. Federal Building, WGP-2113, Boston, MA 02203, 617-565-3600.


I. Background

Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42) U.S.C. 300f. 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523) states:
If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial asisstance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee or otherwise) may be entered into *11056 for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

On March 9, 1989, EPA received a petition from State Representative Mae Schmidle of the 106th District of Connecticut requesting designation of the Pootatuck Aquifer as a sole source aquifer. EPA determined that the petition, after receipt and review of additional requested information, fully satisfied the Completeness Determination Checklist. A public meeting was then scheduled and held on November 8, 1989 in Newtown, Connecticut, in accordance with all applicable notification and procedural requirements. A six-week public comment period followed the hearing.

II. Basis for Determination

Among the factors considered by the Regional Administrator as part of the detailed review and technical verification process for designating an area under section 1424(e) were: (1) Whether the aquifer is the sole or principal source (more than 50 percent) of drinking water for the defined aquifer service area, and that the volume of water from an alternative source is insufficient to replace the petitioned aquifer; (2) whether contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health; and (3) whether the boundaries of the aquifer, its recharge area and streamflow source area, the project designation area, and the project review area are appropriate. On the basis of technical information available to EPA at this time, the Regional Administrator has made the following findings in favor of designating the Pootatuck Aquifer as a sole source aquifer:

  1. The Pootatuck Aquifer is the sole source of drinking water to all of the residents within the service area.
  2. There exists no reasonable alternative drinking water source or combination of sources of sufficient quantity to supply the designated service area.
  3. The Petitioner has appropriately delineated the boundaries of the aquifer recharge area, project designation area and project review area.
  4. Although the quality of the Aquifer's ground water is rated as good to excellent, it is highly vulnerable to contamination due to its geological characteristics. Because of this contaminants can be rapidly introduced into the aquifer system from a number of sources with minimal assimilation. This may include contamination from chemical spills; highway, urban and rural runoff; septic systems; leaking storage tanks, both above and underground; road salting operations; saltwater intrusion; and landfill leachate. Since all residents are dependent upon the aquifer for their drinking water, a serious contamination incident could pose a significant public health hazard and place a severe financial burden on the service area's residents.

III. Description of the Pootatuck Aquifer, Designated and Project Review Area

The Pootatuck Aquifer is a 7.9 square mile aquifer located in the Town of Newtown, in southwestern Connecticut. Water contributing recharge to the aquifer drains from a 26.1-square mile watershed within the Housatonic River Basin, and includes small portions of the towns of Monroe and Easton, Connecticut. The aquifer is a typical stratified drift deposit with a saturated thickness generally le