Three Amity area residents recently won prizes in the annual photography contest of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.

Barrie Tait Collins, a Bulletin reporter and Bethany resident, won first prize in the "people recreating" category of the contest. Her winning winter scene shows a group of walkers as they circled Lake Chamberlain in Bethany on a woods road lined with snow-laden hemlocks.

Gary Canapinno of Orange was a finalist in three contest categories - general scenes, water scenes and people recreating, and. Robert Neumann, also of Orange, was recognized as a finalist in the water scenes category.

Participants in the annual contest must hold an authority recreation permit and are limited to five entries. The categories are: general scenes, water scenes, people recreating, plants and wildlife. The scenes must have been taken on the water authority's lands, many of which are partially open for hiking, fishing, bicycling and horseback riding with a permit.

The five category winners each received a $100 prize. The remaining finalists received prizes from the contest sponsors, Action Sports, Milford Photo and Nature Works.

The authority uses a number of the contest entries to create its annual "picture perfect" desk calendar, said Michele Ardolino, authority recreation supervisor. "Our recreation program and opportunities like this contest provide us with a chance to remind people of what we do to protect land and drinking water. But, more importantly, our recreational green spaces help fortify a connection with nature," she said.

An authority permit opens more than 55 miles of trails to a permit holder, plus a guest. The permit system helps to "insure that future generations will have the same natural resources to share and enjoy," said Ardolino.

To purchase a permit visit the authority's web site www.rwater.com, or call the authority recreation department at 401-2654

The authority owns more than 25,000 acres of watershed land and serves 400,000 customers in 12 south central CT communities, while providing a wide array of recreational opportunities to permit holders.

Through its Whitney Water Center the RWA also provides hands-on water science programs to some 12,000 students annually.