For those wishing to follow the controversial Tilcon quarry proposal, details can be accessed on the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority website. PURA recently established a Docket that will enable the State Water Planning Council (WPC) to collect and organize information, as needed, pertaining to Public Act 16-61 AAC An Environmental Study On a Change In Use Of New Britain Water Company Land.
Here are two links to the subject Docket:
The Water Planning Council heard special testimony on August 12, 2016 regarding the Tilcon environmental study. Here's their response to public comment. Stay tuned as the process unfolds:
Dear Mayor Stewart:
The Water Planning Council (WPC) held an August 12, 2016 Special Meeting to discuss the communication from The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regarding its July 27th vote to rescind its June 22nd determination regarding the acceptability of the consultants proposed by the City of New Britain. The CEQ recommended that the WPC urge the City to select an independent, third party consultant through a Request for Proposals process. The WPC also received correspondence from New Britain resident Paul Zagorsky regarding the New Britain reservoir proposal. These written comments are attached. There was lengthy public comment expressing concern about the suitability of Lenard Engineering, Inc. to perform the environmental study required by P.A. 16-61, and the comprehensiveness of the current Scope of Work.
The WPC takes its responsibilities pursuant to PA 16-61 very seriously. We urge Lenard Engineering to meet with the CEQ to address its concerns and to amend the Scope or Work as necessary. The WPC also requests that the City of New Britain provide periodic updates to both the CEQ and the WPC regarding the amendments to the Scope of Work and progress of the study. We plan to discuss the matter at our October 5, 2016 meeting and we would like a written report at least two weeks prior to that date. We thank you for your cooperation and consideration of the concerns expressed by this Council, Senator Gerratana, the CEQ and the residents of the city. Subsequent reports should occur on a monthly basis.
John W. Betkoski, III
Connecticut public trust waters are at risk again. The state Water Planning Council met in an emergency session on August 12th to hear public testimony on the controversial environmental study proposed to determine the feasibility of a land swap pushed by both Tilcon and the city of New Britain. Tilcon wishes to expand its crushed rock mining activities into 131 acres of Class I and Class II watersheds, an action currently prohibited by state law. In return, the city of New Britain would get lease money and-40 years in the future- a reservoir.
Once again there's a question of corporate profits and potential municipal income driving a decision to sell off a prime natural CT asset. The Class I watershed acts not only to store, but to protect and filter water for the surrounding areas. Mining the newly proposed area could also expose a current reservoir serving New Britain -Shuttle Meadow- to contamination.
As Mary Pelletier of Park River Watershed noted at the hearing, citizens can no longer rely on municipal officials to protect these vital resources. It's up to them to police both private corporations seeking profit and municipalities seeking to balance their budgets.
Letter to the editor by Atty Paul Zagorsky of New Britain, CT appeared on 8-7-16 in the New Britain Herald. Below is an aerial photo of Tilcon quarry, Wasal reservoir, and Crescent Lake in New Britain. The Tilcon
proposal would double the size of the quarry onto protected watershed land.
To the Editor:
As to the proposal to allow Tilcon to quarry 131.4 acres of protected watershed, and the independent environmental review commissioned by the city, there is a lot of misleading information out there.
The mayor has stated “By law this study is to be completed within six months.” In a letter to the state, she states “given the aggressive time frame” laid out in the Public Act, the city is anxious to proceed with the environmental review as expeditiously as possible. The Public Act has no completion date. It says the city shall “commission” an environmental study within 180 days of the act’s effective date (6/1/16).
The mayor has stated “The State Water Planning Council and the Council on Environmental Quality both signed off on having Lenard Engineering, Inc. conduct the study which will be completed within 180 days.” That is misleading. In her letter to the WPC she asks them to “consider the following (four) firms and inform us as to their acceptability as a consultant in the event we were to select them to work with the city on the study project.” The WPC at its June 23, 2016 meeting found all four firms acceptable. The city did not tell the WPC or the CEQ that it had already selected Lenard’s June 17, 2016 proposal, nor did it provide the CEQ or the WPC the proposal. Why keep it from the public and the state?
Once the CEQ and WPC were provided the Lenard proposal (not by the city), both scheduled meetings. The CEQ in its July 27, 2016 meeting voted to rescind its June 22, 2016 determination regarding the acceptability of the consultants proposed by the city,” and also “to recommend to the Water Planning Council that it urge the city to select an independent third party consultant through a Request For Proposals process.” The WPC has scheduled a special public meeting on August 12, at 1 p.m. at the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Ten Franklin Square, New Britain.
In her July 28, letter to the WPC the mayor states she was “dismayed to learn that the CEQ passed a motion yesterday rescinding their approval of Lenard Engineering.” While Gilbert Bligh, head of the city’s Water Department was at that CEQ meeting, he did not speak, no one from the city did. I am dismayed the city has withheld and/or provided misleading information to the public and the state, that the Lenard study is a Tilcon quarry feasibility study and not an environmental study, that Lenard is a long time contractor for the city and not “independent,” and that the city is working so closely with Tilcon’s lobbyists on this.
The mayor in her July 1 letter to residents living near the quarry says “This (study) is being done to ensure that all environmental concerns are being addressed with transparency.”
That is misleading.
Paul E. Zagorsky
According to Bloomberg News (8-2-2016) Susan Wellington, president of Quaker Oats Co.'s U.S. beverage division issued a prediction in 2000: “When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes". It could be on track to becoming reality. As multi-national corporate water bottlers market their wares as healthier, safer, more convenient and tastier than municipal tap water, consumers are buying...and buying.... (and of course, throwing away and throwing away)...
Of course, the trend away from sodas and sugary drinks is healthy, but healthier than tap???? In general tap water is as safe if not safer- and subject to more intensive and frequent regulatory checks from the EPA (as opposed to the FDA which regulates foods and bottled water). In rare isolated municipalities, when public water infrastructure has been neglected, the dire consequence of a contaminated water supply can become a reality. Flint Michigan is one such example. $384 billion will be required to maintain and upgrade the country's water supply. We will need to support a public financing system for these improvements- and not become a third world country whose residents are afraid of their own tap water.
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.