SOUTHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a final plan to restore migratory fish and birds affected by contamination from the Old Southington Landfill and Solvents Recovery Site and clear the Quinnipiac River canoe trail from Southington to Meriden.
Two Superfund settlements, totaling $800,000, will pay for the projects. Superfund is the name of a federal program for cleaning up abandoned hazardous waste sites.
“Now that the final plan is in place it means we can get the money and think about how to implement the projects,” said Molly Sperduto of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Work could begin as early as the summer of 2015, Sperduto said.
The next step is to hire an engineering firm to look at different possibilities for the dams on the Quinnipiac River. Options include creating passageways for fish or eliminating them altogether. Many fish can’t get farther north in the river because of the dams.
The Solvents Recovery Superfund site, near Lazy Lane, is a wetland habitat contaminated with high levels of volatile organic compounds and metals. The Old Southington Landfill on Old Turnpike Road is contaminated with mercury, cadmium and other metals. The landfill was capped and closed in 1967. Both are near the Quinnipiac River.
Steve Gephard, a fish biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said they have been working with other agencies to try to restore migratory fish in the river for some time.
“We’re very excited about it,” Gephard said. “The damage was done to the Quinnipiac River and so the benefits are going back to the Quinnipiac River.”
While the majority of the funds from the settlement will be going towards restoring the migratory fish, the other project includes clearing and maintaining the canoe trail. Sperduto said they also plan to create an educational brochure about the river.
“That’s an exciting opportunity to get more people on the river and learning about it,” Sperduto said of the canoe trail.
Estimates for the projects won’t be available until the alternatives for the dams are prepared.