Pequonnock River Initiative  

Pequonnock River Initiative

In 2010, the Pequonnock River Initiative (PRI) was formed as a partnership between the City of Bridgeport and the Towns of Monroe and Trumbull to develop a plan for the Pequonnock River watershed.

The Pequonnock River

The Pequonnock River watershed encompasses a 29 square-mile area with the majority of the watershed located within Monroe, Trumbull, and Bridgeport. The river headwaters flow from Monroe through the center of Trumbull into northern neighborhoods of the City of Bridgeport and out into Bridgeport Harbor.

Land use within the watershed varies from undeveloped or lightly developed areas near the headwaters in Monroe, portions of which serve as a backup drinking water supply; transitioning to low- and medium-density residential and commercial uses through Trumbull and the northern portions of Bridgeport; and finally to the City center and former industrial and manufacturing uses near the mouth of the river at Bridgeport Harbor.

Plan Development Process

The Watershed Action Plan has been developed consistent with State and Federal guidance for the development of watershed-based plans. Following this approach will enable implementation projects under this plan to be considered for funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act and improve the chances for funding through other State and Federal sources.

Development of the watershed management plan consisted of the following major tasks.

  • Steering Committee – A steering committee consisting of representatives of the PRI was formed to guide the plan development. The watershed management plan reflects the combined efforts of the PRI, watershed municipalities, the Save the Sound and Fuss & O’Neill project team, the CT DEEP, and other stakeholders.
  • Baseline Watershed Assessment – A baseline assessment was performed to develop an understanding of the current water resource conditions in the Pequonnock River watershed. The baseline assessment serves as a basis for the watershed management plan recommendations and also provides a background reference document to support future implementation activities within the watershed.
  • Watershed Field Inventories – Field inventories were conducted in approximately eight miles of stream corridors, potential hotspot land use locations, representative residential neighborhoods, and associated streets and storm drainage systems. The field inventoriesidentified a number of common issues and problems, as well as potential candidate sites for stormwater retrofits, stream restoration, and other targeted projects. The Watershed Field Assessment Report also serves as a basis for watershed plan recommendations, as well as a background reference document to support future plan implementation activities.
  • Land Use Regulatory Review – The project team also reviewed the land use regulations and planning documents of Monroe, Trumbull, and Bridgeport. The land use regulatory review identified a number of recommendations to improve stormwater management, promote green infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID), reduce the amount of impervious cover generated by future development, and better protect watercourses, wetlands, and riparian areas.
  • Plan Goals and Objectives – The project team developed a series of goals and objectives for the watershed based upon the findings of the baseline watershed assessment, field inventories, and land use regulatory review. The goals and objectives were further refined by the PRI Steering Committee with input from each of the watershed municipalities.
  • Plan Recommendations – Potential management actions were identified for each of the plan goals and objectives and subsequently refined based upon input from the PRI Steering Committee through workshop meetings and coordination with municipal staff and boards, culminating in the plan recommendations that are presented in this document. Management actions included ongoing, short, medium and long-term recommendation, as well as watershed-wide and site-specific actions. Site-specific retrofit and restoration concepts were developed based on the baseline assessment and
    watershed field inventories.
  • Public Outreach – Significant public outreach was conducted during the watershed planning process to increase public understanding of issues affecting the watershed and to encourage participation in the development of the watershed plan.

Watershed Management Goals

The watershed management goals for the Pequonnock River watershed are:

  • Goal 1 – Capacity Building for Plan Implementation. Build a foundation for successful implementation of the watershed management plan by the watershed municipalities, non-governmental organizations (environmental groups and non-profits), residents, local businesses, and other stakeholders.
  • Goal 2 – Water Quality. Improve the water quality of the Pequonnock River and its tributaries so that impaired reaches of the river will consistently meet their designated uses for fish and wildlife habitat and recreational use, along with improving the downstream water bodies of Bridgeport Harbor and Long Island Sound. Maintain and enhance the water quality of water bodies that are not impaired.
  • Goal 3 – Habitat Protection and Restoration. Protect and improve terrestrial, riparian, and aquatic habitat in the watershed to maintain and increase the watershed’s diversity of plant and animal species.
  • Goal 4 – Sustainable Land Use and Open Space. Promote sustainable growth and appropriate development in the watershed while preserving and improving the watershed’s natural resources, providing public access to open space, and addressing current and future flooding problems.
  • Goal 5 – Education and Stewardship. Promote stewardship of the Pequonnock River watershed through education and outreach. Target appropriate messages to specific audiences, and promote stewardship opportunities through citizen involvement in science, conservation, and restoration activities.

Priority Recommendations

  1. Adopt the watershed plan through a formal agreement between the municipalities. Form a watershed organization with representatives from Monroe, Trumbull, and Bridgeport.
  2. Actively seek and obtain funding to implement plan recommendations.
  3. Establish an ongoing water quality monitoring program for the watershed.
  4. Continue to implement the City of Bridgeport Long Term Control Plan to reduce Combined Sewer Overflow discharges to the river and harbor.
  5. Promote green infrastructure and low impact development for private development and municipal infrastructure. Incorporate green infrastructure approaches in the City’s CSO control efforts.
  6. Implement priority stormwater retrofits, beginning with high-profile demonstration sites in each watershed community.
  7. Implement priority stream buffer restoration projects, and adopt local stream buffer regulations.
  8. Protect and restore aquatic and stream corridor habitat by implementing priority fish passage and stream restoration projects.
  9. Pursue the creation of a regional sewer authority to establish a regional framework for addressing septic system impacts and potential stormwater funding mechanisms.
  10. Strengthen municipal land use regulations to improve stormwater management using low impact development, riparian buffer protection, and tree canopy preservation.
  11. Increase public access to the river to enhance recreational opportunities and stewardship of the river. Recapture the riverfront along the Lower Pequonnock River through redevelopment efforts such as Knowlton Street Park, which can serve as a catalyst for broader economic development.
  12. Promote public education and stewardship of the watershed through continuing engagement activities, such as clean-ups, stream condition assessments, invasive plant removals, streambank buffer plantings, and river festivals/events. Create an interactive web-site and social media tools to inform the public about the watershed plan, watershed issues, and stewardship opportunities.