Connecticut River Case Study

The New England Basin (Hydrologic Region 1), covering a drainage area of 64,071 square miles from Maine to southwestern Connecticut, includes some of the major rivers in the continental United States. The Connecticut River, the largest river in New England, originates from a series of small lakes just south of the Canadian border and flows 400 miles south over a drainage area of 11,250 square miles through Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to Long Island Sound (Figure 5-1). An estimated 1.1 million people lived in the Lower Connecticut River basin in 1996. Densely populated urban centers border the river from Springfield, Massachusetts, downstream to Middletown, Connecticut. The major urban centers along the river are Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut. A diverse mix of manufacturing, trade, finance, agriculture, recreation, and tourism forms the economic base of the basin.

Figure 5-2 highlights the location of the Lower Connecticut River case study watersheds (catalog units) identified in this major river basin as a major urban-industrial area affected by severe water pollution problems during the 1950s and 1960s (see Table 4-2). In this chapter, information is presented to characterize long-term trends in population, municipal wastewater infrastructure and effluent loading of pollutants, ambient water quality, environmental resources, and uses of the Lower Connecticut River. Data sources include USEPA's national water quality database (STORET), published technical literature, and unpublished technical reports ("grey" literature) obtained from local agency sources.

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