(The following was taken from Mike Roberts’ Wood ‘N’ Water column, which appears in the Record-Journal.)
By the late 1950s, the Quinnipiac River water seemed to be tainted and started to lose favor as a recreation spot. Soon it was forgotten and eventually turned into nothing but a carrier for polluted water from buildings along the river.
It looked like nobody gave a damn what happed to the river.
The state even stopped stocking the Quinnipiac River with trout because tests showed the water too polluted for the fish to survive. Various forms of aquatic life in the river even disappeared.
Back then, the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail was nothing more than an abandoned railroad bed turning into a dirt trail that saw some vehicles driven up and abandoned along the river, their oil and fluids running into the Quinnipiac, adding to the pollution.
Slowly, but surely, the Quinnipiac River was left to die a slow lingering death.
And then a group of conservation-minded folks formed a loose-knit group called the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association. They had decided that enough was enough and they were going to do something about the Quinnipiac River and its pollution problems. They were first headed up by a local conservationist and sportsman, Walt Hylwa.
Slowly, but surely, they became a force to be reckoned with. They were assisted by a conservationist named Erin O’Hare, who now serves as the Environmental & Natural Resource Planner for the Town of Wallingford.
Erin O’Hare had walked and mapped the entire length of the Quinnipiac, noting sources of pollution as well as dumping areas along the river.
For some businesses along the river, the QRWA became a thorn in their side, but eventually most of them recognized the need for change, and the river started to show signs of life again.
Thanks to the generosity and hard work of the Meriden Lions Club and the Cuno Foundation, a building that was once a dog pound was cleaned and refurbished and now serves as the QRWA headquarters. It sits right on the shoreline of Hanover Pond in Meriden where the Quinnipiac River flows into the pond.
Every year they have a couple of cleanups, but this time around they are going to try something different. In lieu of the Spring River Cleanup, this year they are holding a month-long event throughout April in which volunteers can clean in and around the Quinnipiac River and Hanover Pond at their own pace and on whatever date and whatever time works for each individual or group.
There will not be a QRWA guide on site throughout April. Volunteers are asked to work independently The QRWA will provide trash bags to all volunteers and will dispose of the trash collected.
The QRWA would like for anyone interested in participating to email or text photos of themselves and other volunteers cleaning the waterways so they can be shared in an email at the conclusion of the event.
If this sounds like something you or your group would be interested in, email the QRWA at email@example.com for details. This is an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy walking the trails on the Quinnipiac River and Hanover Pond. Clean water is everyone’s responsibility.