The Water Planning Council, made up of state officials from P.U.R.A.; O.P.M.; D.E.E.P.; and D.P.H. have met in December, 2017 and in January, 2018 to consider public comments and suggested input into the draft plan. The comment log can be viewed at:
Thanks are due to the MANY supporters of Save Our Water CT who sent in impassioned pleas for the state officials to recognize water as a public trust (perhaps the most frequently mentioned comment) and to recommend regulations for the sale of CT water to industrial corporate water bottlers.
After a heated debate, the consensus of the panel was to include water as a public trust in the body and executive summary of the State Water Plan, largely due to overwhelming public comment. Of note, the D.P.H. representative, Lori Mathieu, opposed its inclusion.
Still unknown is whether any mention of water bottling appears in the finalized document. Despite multiple comments made in person by members of Save Our Water CT, the draft plan included scant mention of the issue.
Stay tuned! The finalized plan will be submitted to the CT General Assembly on January 22, 2018. Public hearings will be held before it is adopted as state policy.
Public Act 17-211, " An Act Concerning Access to Water Planning Information"
You may submit testimony by email until Thursday Feb. 2cd at 3 PM. Send email to:
Include the bill number and title in the subject line of your email.
Check this list of members of the environment committee: www.cga.ct.gov/env/
If your legislator is on the committee, please call him or her. Your voice is essential!
- A study bill (SB-753) is only a start, but is flawed and needs revision.
- We need to address the critical issues noted by SB-753 now, not leave the state open to more corporate water raids while a severe drought continues.
- We need drought protection so that our water is not sent out of state in bottles while we conserve.
- We need a permitting system for large water bottlers, so that we ensure that all of CT has enough water now and for the future- before giving it away to water bottling giants.
- We need a water rate structure that promotes conservation, not special discounts for large super-users which incentivizes over-use.
- Corporations profiting from Grade A CT water should pay their fair share to support clean water infrastructure, which residents have been doing for years.
Protect CT’s Water Security: Provide Oversight for Large Water Bottlers: A STUDY BILL IS NOT ENOUGH!
Bill to "study" Expanded Water Bottling will be the only "water bill" allowed to come up for a hearing. Powerful Opponents want to "study" water bottling, while leaving it without any oversight. While the drought continues, CT will still be open to corporate water raids.
A Letter to Our Legislators:
Last year we saw a multi-national water bottling company establish itself in our state with virtually no public input or state oversight. Niagara Bottling of California received local tax abatements and unprecedented discounts on water and sewer rates (Clean Water Project rates) on up to 1.8M gallons/day of Grade A municipal drinking water. No environmental review or state permitting was required. No expiration date on its claim to state waters was placed. While drought warnings were sent to much of the state asking residents to conserve, this corporation was preparing to ship millions of single-serve plastic water bottles out of the watershed and beyond state borders. To our dismay, our current state drought plans do not include mandatory restrictions on this large-scale extraction until long after residents are voluntarily cutting back and reservoirs are at dangerously low levels.
SB-753 recognizes critical issues confronting Connecticut’s water supplies and environment as major water bottlers move into our state. However, study alone is essentially a call to inaction for 2 more years. As such, SB-753 is flawed if left without revision. We need legislation NOW that provides sensible, reasonable oversight of any sizeable expansion of the bottled water industry:
- Protect the state’s waters during a drought: limit water bottling while watersheds are stressed and residents are conserving- it’s ALREADY happening.
- Require a permit for any large expansion of water bottling so we know there’s enough water for both our drinking needs and our environment- for now and for decades to come. Place a moratorium on major expansion of water bottling while an appropriate permit is developed.
- Ensure water rates are not incentivizing over-use of water: lowering rates for super-users contradicts the conservation ethic this natural resource requires.
- Support public clean water infrastructure by requiring corporations profiting from Grade A CT water to pay their fair share.
"For the first time in Connecticut's long running drought, the Metropolitan District has issued a drought advisory to its 400,000 water customers......"
just as the Niagara bottling plant is set to open.
After months of below normal precipitation, MDC reservoirs have now fallen to 75% of their capacity, triggering the first drought advisory for MDC's 8 member towns. Municipal governments in its service area are being asked to cut down on non-essential water use such as street cleaning, municipal watering, and the washing of town vehicles. Residents are not yet under water restrictions, but 5-10 Million gallons of extra water/day will be leaving the MDC reservoirs to aid New Britain. A long-standing agreement for the MDC to aid New Britain in case of a water supply emergency is now being activated for the first time in decades. That additional water draw may trigger residential restrictions next spring if significant rainfall does not arrive. That could happen as early as May, when the MDC's reservoirs could be down to 53% capacity.
The MDC- with the largest state reservoir (Barkhamsted)- has begun publically recognizing its value as an essential water reserve for less water-rich parts of our state. Though the state has often been viewed as one with a plentiful water supply, that concept has been drastically challenged this year. 83% of the state is now listed as being in severe or extreme drought.
How ironic that Niagara Bottling will being drawing water from the system for what has to be the most non-essential use of all: sending single-serve water bottles out of the MDC watershed! Unfortunately for state residents, Niagara's bottling operation will be immune from mandatory water restrictions until MDC reservoir's are at 10% of capacity! That's all the protection our current DPH drought policy provides us. There's no permit required for Niagara's water draw nor any time limitation, so their corporate profits will essentially be prioritized over municipal and residential uses. Time for a change in state water policy!
WE CALLED AND YOU ANSWERED!
A standing room only crowd gave testimony on Monday evening Dec 5, 2016 during a public hearing prior to a vote of the commissioners on whether to rescind the "industrial water rate" and "special sewer service charge discount" set up last December to benefit Niagara Bottling of CA.
Water bottlers have come under fire recently for aggressively marketing single-serve bottles of water (often filled partly with re-packaged municipal water); for the environmental harm caused by billiions of long-lasting PET bottles littering the landfills, rivers, and oceans; and for the oil, water, and energy used in creating and transporting the heavy water bottles. Once one major water bottler was essentially invited into the state, and rewarded with attractive rates for Grade A CT water, fears mounted that more could follow in its steps. Markets outside CT-such as the metro Boston area- have been one of the targets. The shipment of water outside the state's watershed, especially during the most signficiant drought since the 1960's, is particularly problematic.
As water utilities struggle with debt service and the need to replace infrastructure, they have turned to selling more water as their primary tool for revenue enhancement, even while preaching conservation to their residential consumers. Pricing structures utilizing "conservation pricing" and including infrastructure replacement reserves need to be developed and adopted for municipal water utilities in the state.
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.