Disappointing News: The gavel will be coming down on this year's legislative session and unfortunately it won't include any regulatory oversight of the ever-growing water bottling industry. Earlier this winter, Save Our Water CT's bills were not allowed to come to a public hearing in the Environment Committee. Despite this setback, we worked hard to craft an amendment that would require bottlers using our municipal water to publicly apply for and receive approvals from the Dept. of Public Health....and to ensure that they would be subject to all applicable contingency plans for drought, including any restrictions felt necessary by the Commissioner of Public Health. Negotiations with water utilities, the Dept. of Public Health, environmental allies, and our legislative champions ultimately failed just days before the end of the session. Hard news, especially given our state's recent serious drought. Steadily climbing corporate profits from bottled water, the anti-regulatory atmosphere beginning to pervade our legislature, and the opposition of the water bottlers all played a role.... See more below...
Still No State Oversight of Large Water Bottlers
Save Our Water CT is disappointed that despite the state’s recent severe drought, legislation to provide reasonable oversight over large water bottling industries in Connecticut failed to be taken up in the 2017 General Assembly Session.
An amendment requiring the Department of Public Health to certify the adequacy of the water supply for bottlers using municipal water, and to allow the Commissioner of Public Health to issue restrictions in cases of severe drought, hit roadblocks in the final weeks of the session. Last minute opposition by the industry contributed to the breakdown of negotiations between the water utilities, the Department of Public Health, environmental allies, and legislative champions Sen. Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) and Rep. Derek Slap, (D-West Hartford)
“These would have been reasonable and appropriate measures,” Valerie Rossetti of Save Our Water CT’s steering committee, said. “Presently no environmental review or renewable permitting is required for massive water bottling operations which often transfer water out of native watersheds and across state boundaries.”
Outcomes on water-related legislation:
CONSUMER ADVOCATE ESTABLISHED AT THE MDC: The group is pleased to report however, that HB 6008, creating an independent consumer advocate at the Metropolitan District Commission, has now been signed into law by Governor Malloy. The bill was driven by citizen outrage at the District’s decision to provide 1.8M gallons of water each day at discounted water and sewer rates to Niagara Bottling. It authorizes the Office of the Consumer Council to appoint a utility lawyer, who will hopefully provide increased transparency at the “quasi-public” water utility. Though the discounted rates were rescinded last year, the MDC has publicized its intention to re-explore an industrial rate structure. https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2017&bill_num=6008
DEEP STRENGTHENS OVERSIGHT TO PROTECT STREAM FLOWS: Save Our Water CT also worked to support a newly amended Department of Energy and Environmental Protection regulation designed to help protect CT stream flow levels. Diversion permits will now be required to withdraw or transfer large amounts of water in certain watersheds affected by expanding or merging water utilities.
ACCESS TO WATER PLANNING INFORMATION STALLED: HB 7221, designed to allow access to non-security-sensitive water planning information, appears to once again have died in the legislature. Environmental advocates and citizens remain blocked from reviewing even one sentence of the massive 800-plus page MDC water supply plan, limiting their ability to provide input into decision-making for CT’s most valuable natural resource.
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.