River Advocates of South Central Connecticut
Executive Director - Mary Mushinsky directs programs and trains river guides. Mary has worked to restore rivers for 18 years.
The Three Rivers of Greater New Haven The Quinnipiac, Mill and West Rivers are located in Greater New Haven in South Central Connecticut, one of the densely populated, urbanized regions of the state. The three rivers all empty into New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound but differ in character as a result of how regulators designated their uses more than a century ago. Officials designated the Quinnipiac River as the waste receiving stream for the region, yet all three river are either partly or wholly located on the federal impaired waters list due to pollutants associated with urban landscapes. Several types of human impacts have reduced these rivers’ natural ability to maintain water quality. Both water quality and quantity are issues of concern for river advocates in South Central Connecticut. Poor water quality prevents contact recreation (swimming and wading). Low water interferes with swimming, paddling, fishing and fish life. South Central CT is heavily urbanized, so that extensive paved surfaces have replaced forests, plants and soil, and reduced the natural filtration and storage of rain and snow. Much of the Quinnipiac, and downstream sections of the Mill and West River basins are heavily paved today. Stormwater washing off streets and lots is often contaminated. Once a river basin is developed more than 12%, water quality degrades. In South Central Connecticut, the lower river basins are paved beyond 25%—a huge challenge for river advocates as they attempt to restore water quality
Mary Mushinsky was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1980 on a platform of environmental activism, consumer advocacy and improved energy policies. She currently holds the leadership position of Assistant Deputy Speaker.
Mary has held various other leadership positions including co-chair of the legislature's bipartisan Program Review and Investigations Committee, specializing in preparing workforce for a changing economy, retraining older and long term unemployed workers, apprenticeships, and improving efficiency of state programs. The committee spotlighted and expanded the state’s most successful apprenticeship program, Platform to Employment. Mary previously served as co-chair of the legislature's Select Committee on Children for ten years and passed the state’s anti-bullying law. She is the recipient of numerous awards for adolescent pregnancy prevention and reduction of child poverty.
She also served for six years as co-chair of the legislature's Environment Committee. A biologist by training, Mary has been the chief proponent in the Connecticut legislature of major environmental legislation enacted during the 1980s and 1990s, including mandatory recycling, packaging reduction, open-space preservation, global warming mitigation and endangered species protection laws.
Mary served as a member of the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes and the Results-Based Accountability Working Group to achieve greater efficiencies in taxpayer funded programs, as well as the Peak Oil Caucus to reduce the impact of high oil prices on residents and businesses. She currently serves on the Manufacturing Caucus and the Sportsmen’s Caucus.
In Wallingford, Mary initiated and serves as co-chair of the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee, which works with local, state and federal officials and the community to expand the pedestrian/bicycle trail. She also served on the Wallingford Energy Conservation Commission, which promoted the energy audit and energy management recommendations now implemented by the Town of Wallingford school system. Mary is a member and legislative liaison for the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, which seeks to reduce drug and alcohol abuse.