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Town’s storm water could go green in the future

MILLERTON — On Saturday, Oct. 29, townspeople and green infrastructure professionals gathered at the NorthEast-Millerton Library Annex to discuss current ordinances and future greening plans for Millerton and the Hudson Valley.Sponsored by the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), the morning featured lectures by Chasen Companies hydrogeologist Russell Urban-Meade, Cricket Valley Energy associate project manager Matt Martin, green roof and langscape architect Mark Morrison, and Hudson River Watershed Alliance coordinator Barbara Kendall.Urban-Meade said that since Millerton is high in the watershed — meaning that the water that runs through the area is close to its source and has few or no other water systems feeding into it -- that Millerton’s water supply is very clean, but also not always plentiful during dry periods.This presents a great opportunity for planning for future protection of the watershed, he said.While the only way to ensure the watershed remains pristine is to tell everyone to pack up and move away, he joked, he knows that is unreasonable, so the town must look at other options.A more reasonable option is to adopt the model ordinance for city planning and watershed protection.Amenia has already adopted the model ordinance, which Urban-Meade described as one of the most modern plans for town development and watershed protection.The ordinance gives the highest levels of protection to the areas with the highest concentration of wells because when wells are close to one another, polluting one will also pollute many others.The ordinance does not give its highest protection to the center of Amenia because the wells that service that area are located outside of town. Giving that part of town a lower level of protection makes it more convenient and appealing for businesses to set up shop in the center of town instead of on the outskirts where the wells are located.Up next, Martin explained the measures that the new Cricket Valley Energy natural gas electric plant will include to make the project more efficient and more eco-friendly.Cricket Valley will be a combined cycle plant, meaning that it will create energy by burning natural gas, then the heat produced from that process will be recycled to create additional energy through steam. This method, said Martin, will be roughly 60 percent efficient, which is approximately double the efficiency of a coal-burning plant.The Cricket Valley plans also include rehabilitation of the surrounding wetlands (which were abused as dumping grounds for previous factories), a roof water collection system and bio-retention pools that will allow storm water to seep back into the water table.Martin explained that to green the proposed plant, the construction cost was increased by only roughly 5 percent.Following Martin was Morrison, who detailed some of his green architectural projects, including several green roofing projects.To stress the pressing need for more environmentally-friendly approaches to landscaping and architectural design, Morrison’s lecture also gave shocking information — such as the fact that every year, over 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled by people trying to refill lawncare equipment, and that’s more oil than was spilled during the Exxon Valdez disaster.Kendall wrapped up the lecture by explaining planning and treatment practices that should be adopted.Planning practices include preserving buffers and undisturbed areas, selecting less sensitive areas for new construction, reducing parking lots through sharing parking areas and reducing roadways by planning according to density and traffic demand. Treatment practices include building rain gardens and rain barrels, installing green roofs and using porous and permeable pavement.Kendall said that not only does implementing these plans and treatments improve the quality of the storm water management, but many of the plans and treatments are required by New York State, including many of the measures taken by the Cricket Valley project.All of the lecturers stressed that as Millerton and the surrounding areas continue to grow, it is important to plan for the future, particularly regarding preserving and maintaining the regions natural beauty and pristine resources.

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