The Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee (SBPAC) was formed in 1991 by the Town of Westport's Conservation Department acting in coordination with the Town of Fairfield's Conservation Department.
The SBPAC is a voluntary alliance consisting of representatives of a number of governmental agencies and private organizations, all with authorities, responsibilities, and interests concerning water quality in the watershed. Interested citizens have also participated in the committee's functions.
In addition to the two towns' Conservation Departments, active participants include representatives from the following agencies:
- The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Connecticut Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Aquaculture,
- Westport-Weston Health District
- U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Private organizations such as Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center; and the Fairfield County Hunt Club.
The alliance was formed after the State of Connecticut prohibited recreational shellfishing near the mouth of the Sasco Brook due to the detected presence of bacterial contamination in water samples and shellfish. It became the mission of the SBPAC to identify the sources of that contamination and pursue the measures necessary to protect and improve water quality in the brook.
Since its formation, the SBPAC has promoted the concept of environmental stewardship whereby all residents, officials, agencies, and organizations with an interest or authority pertaining to Sasco Brook and its watershed would consider themselves as stewards responsible for care of the brook and watershed. That care would be for the purpose of ensuring that the natural, cultural, and economic values of the watershed are sustained for the benefit of future generations.
Among its activities in pursuit of its mission, the SBPAC has promoted the development and sharing of information, encouraged and supported best management practices (BMPs) to protect and improve water quality, provided a forum for public comments and discussions concerning the watershed, and prepared the Sasco Brook Watershed-Based Plan. For the purpose of the plan, SBPAC members are referred to as the "watershed partners."
SASCO BROOK WATERSHED-BASED PLAN SUMMARY
The Watershed-Based Plan, which contains recommendations to protect and improve water quality in the Sasco Brook Watershed, was prepared in the period 2009-2011 with funds provided by the Connecticut DEEP. The recommendations are non-binding and stress voluntary initiatives to reduce bacterial contamination from animal waste and septic systems that is sometimes carried by stormwater runoff into the brook, its tributaries, and ultimately into Long Island Sound.
The watershed covers a little more than ten square miles in southwestern Connecticut. A significant part of the watershed is in the Town of Westport; most is in the Town of Fairfield, and a relatively small part is in the Town of Easton. The brook and its watershed have important natural values and ecological functions that contribute importantly to the quality of life in the watershed's residential neighborhoods. In addition, there is a fundamental relationship involving the brook, its watershed, and Long Island Sound—an estuary of national significance that depends on the environmental quality, including water quality, of its many tributaries and watersheds.
Included in the Watershed-Based Plan is a review of the significant accomplishments for protecting and improving water quality in the watershed that have been achieved since the SBPAC was formed in 1991, along with some of the significant lessons learned by the committee through its experience. The plan sets forth a “Watershed Vision” of ten broad goals based on the concept of perpetual stewardship whereby all citizens, governmental officials, agencies, and organizations with an interest or authority pertaining to the watershed will think of themselves as having responsibilities for care of the brook and its watershed. The plan also proposes an implementation strategy focused on cooperative, voluntary actions on the part of all watershed stakeholders to reduce runoff pollution, also called “nonpoint source” pollution.
In addition, the Watershed-Based Plan includes a five-year program consisting of specific actions for advancing the Watershed Vision, including: analytical measures to continue to develop understanding of the sources of pollution in the watershed; structural measures to influence the movement of stormwater; outreach and education measures to maintain and increase public interest and support for advancing the Watershed Vision; planning and regulatory measures focused on informed land-use planning, effective application of existing land-use regulations, and ongoing pursuit of available funds to implement best management practices for water quality management.
The Watershed-Based Plan has been prepared as a guidance document with an emphasis on continued public outreach and education initiatives that are being pursued through the programs of the SBPAC and the agencies and organizations represented on the committee. A principal goal of the Watershed Vision is to encourage voluntary, personal stewardship actions that will reduce the risk of pollution without creating an additional, undue burden on municipal budgets.
A Memorandum of Agreement to advance the Watershed Vision was signed by the watershed partners, including the First Selectmen of Westport, Fairfield, and Easton, on April 20, 2012.
To see a listing of current minutes, visit this page; see the Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee listing.