As Immediate Public Opposition Mounts, MDC Rescinds Ordinance Changes
In response to rapid and growing public protest, the findings of the Independent MDC Consumer Advocate, and questions as to whether the structure of the proposed discounts violated the MDC's charter, the MDC board issued a press release on 11-16-2018 notifying the public of their intent to withdraw proposed ordinance changes prior to their scheduled November 19th Public Hearing.
Protestors still gathered outside the MC headquarters at 555 Main Street, Hartford prior to the hearing, chanting and displaying "No More Groundhog Days" posters- a reference to how the discounts "popped back up " just as Niagara Bottling applied for permits to expand the number of its bottling lines. The hearing room was packed to overflowing due to multiple citizen concerns: the discounts, the marked increase in water and ad valorem rates, concern for the availability of water to low-income residents, the need to continue the mandated cleanup of the 800 million gallons of MDC sewage which spill into the CT River each year during large rainstorm events, and more.
Of concern-and noted in the press release- are plans for the MDC to seek charter changes at the upcoming legislative session which would allow it to develop what is being labelled an "Economic Development Rate" similar to that in place at South Central Regional Water Authority. Though the SCRWA economic rate is time-limited, it is once again keyed to large water users. The entire question of whether the MDC should be involved in "economic development" remains very controversial- and is never mentioned in its charter. Stay tuned.
New Britain Withdraws Proposal as WPC and CEQ Submit Critical Reports
The Tilcon proposal to expand into Class I and Class II watershed lands in exchange for money, the promise of a new reservoir 40 years from now, and less valuable acreage appears to be dead. At least for now..
On Aug. 22, 2018, Mayor Erin Stewart submitted a letter to the Water Planning Council (W.P.C.) withdrawing the city's proposal in light of significant public opposition and the need for further review "before any such project could move forward". On Aug. 24th the W.P.C. in turn forwarded to the CT. General Assembly its review of the environmental study. It found serious flaws in the argument that this proposal would be beneficial to New Britain's water supply....and in addition found that the risks posed to the environment by the project were significant. (See the WPC letter below).
This is the second time in which Tilcon and the City of New Britain have attempted to skirt the process of obtaining a permit from the D.P.H. to impact Class I and II watersheds. Knowing that such an application was unlikely to be approved, they instead turned to the legislature to bypass environmental regulations- and nearly succeeded in doing so. The Mayor's letter leaves open an implicit suggestion that a resurrection of the deal is a possibility, and the citizens of CT will need to remain vigilant .
It was largely with the activism of Atty Paul Zagorsky and other members of Protect Our Watersheds CT that this round was won.
Despite- or due to-legislative inaction, Governor Malloy today (June 14th) issued an Executive Order for state agencies to begin implementing the State Water Plan as originally drafted. The order also directed the Water Planning Council to re-submit the plan- in its original draft form- to the legislature by Dec 1st.
His order left intact the "water is a public trust" language that was so opposed by a coalition of water utilities, golf associations, and the CT Business and Industry Association.
As the water plan is largely a platform for informed decision-making, much of its work can proceed while awaiting a second round at the legislature. The Water Planning Council will meet on June 15th with "Implementation" leading its agenda.
See the Executive Order at: portal.ct.gov/-/media/D5B15C2FB2134AFAB6E70F56F516B7E7.pdf
Environmental Consequences Found to be Adverse;
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.