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Clean Water On Tap At Upcoming Trout Unlimited Banquet



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Clean Water On Tap At Upcoming

Trout Unlimited Banquet

By Dottie Evans

You don’t have to be a member of the Candlewood Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) and you don’t have to like fish. All that is needed to attend the annual TU chapter fundraiser is $35 and the desire to help preserve Newtown’s natural watershed while enjoying an evening of food, drink, and conviviality.

“This is our once-a-year fundraiser,” said TU Chapter President Tony Ballato, describing the banquet scheduled for Friday, March 24, at 6:30 pm, at the Stony Hill Inn on Route 6 in Bethel.

Organizers are hoping to draw nearly 100 people willing to buy tickets in advance of the event.

“We’re offering entertainment in the form of live auctions, silent auctions, and raffle prizes with a total value of $10,000 that include plenty of non-fishing items. The dinner includes hors d’oeuvres with a cash bar. The earlier people reserve their tables, the better we can plan,” he added.

Among the raffle prizes will be rods, reels, fishing trips, and a guided day of fly fishing on the Pootatuck and Deep Brook. The “non-fishing type prizes” include front row, behind-home-plate Yankees tickets; artwork; books; wines; services; and a weekend stay at Copley Plaza in Boston.

Mr Ballato, who is a Brookfield resident, and TU Vice President James Belden of Newtown are hoping for a substantial response in support of the fundraiser.

“This is where we earn 95 percent of the funds for projects throughout the year,” Mr Belden said.

Although the Candlewood Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited covers five towns, its members do 95 percent of their conservation work in Newtown. There are 250 members of the chapter, 60 of whom live in Newtown.

Over the past two years, the Candlewood Valley Chapter of this nationally recognized conservation organization has been lobbying hard for preservation of the Pootatuck and Deep Brook aquifer that supports unique and self-sustaining wild trout populations.

In addition, the chapter has enlisted its members from several area towns to work with Newtown Trails organizers and local volunteers in stream bank preservation and reconstruction along Al’s Trail.

Trout Unlimited was also able to contribute substantially to town-wide tree planting efforts in both funds to purchase trees and workforce. Another tree planting session is scheduled in late April, for Earth Day 2006.

Mr Belden will be the keynote speaker for the March 24 banquet, presenting a 15-minute talk about current and upcoming conservation projects along the Pootatuck and Deep Brook streams in Newtown.

“In Connecticut, we take all the water out of our headwater streams because of a rule that streams used for drinking water must be Class A. Like the Pootatuck, the headwater streams have aquifers beneath them. When the aquifers are depleted, the streams may dry up,” he said.

As an example, he cited an instance in late August 2005 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, when all the students returned to school at one time and began using a massive quantity of water while taking showers, doing laundry, and flushing toilets.

Overuse of the natural water supply combined with a period of draught proved an ecologically disastrous event, akin to an oil spill.

“Nearby Fenton Brook, which is only a quarter mile from the school, was drained dry and approximately 10,000 trout were killed. It was in all the newspapers. They called it the biggest fish kill ever in this state. We’re trying to avoid this happening in Newtown. Our drinking water is so close to our surface water in this town,” he said.

He added that the Pootatuck River is a “sole source aquifer, because it is the only source of drinking water for those that live within its watershed. Contamination of that watershed would be a disaster. Along Wasserman Way in the Fairfield Hills area, there are about 3,000 people depending upon it. Our uplands are essential. This is where the springs feed the streams for replenishment.”

Tickets for the March 24 banquet at Stony Hill Inn may be bought for $35 each at the Valley Angler tackle shop at 56 Padanaram Road in Danbury, and at Newtown Bait and Tackle on South Main Street (next to Carminuccio’s Pizza and across from the Newtown Deli). They may also be obtained by calling Tony Ballato at 740-8636 or email: Aballato@sbcglobal.net.

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