It was a disappointing end to the 2018 General Session, with the failure of the first State Water Plan to be adopted. But the overwhelming public support for the inclusion of "water as a public trust resource" in the plan - and the vehement opposition by industry groups- brought the importance of our environmental protection laws to the forefront. Our 1971 CT General Statute 22a-15 declares as state policy that our air, water, and natural resources are held in the public trust. The plan is intact, still contains its important public trust language, and will return to the General Assembly next year, hopefully to more receptive legislators.
Save Our Water CT is taking a necessary break to re-assess, re-group, and re-strategize for the coming year. As we write, decisions are being made over allowing Tilcon Connecticut to strip mine Class I and II watershed lands, to allow California corporations to buy out CT water utilities, and to potentially re-instate water rate discounts for industrial water bottlers like Niagara Bottling of California.
We hope all those who care deeply for this precious resource make it an issue in the upcoming 2018 elections!
The 2018 legislative session ended at midnight on May 9th with no vote taken on the State Water Plan. After a public hearing on April 17th by the 4 committees of cognizance at at the General Assembly (Environment, Public Health, Planning & Development, and Energy & Technology) further advancement was blocked by a combination of special interest groups. Although a coalition of environmental advocates reached compromise language with the CT Water Works Association (CWWA) and the MDC, the CT Business and Industry Association (CBIA), and Sen. Len Fasano remained firmly opposed. The mere mention that "water as a public trust" was a frequently made public comment during the draft review, along with the citation of CGS 22a-15 in the draft document, was the reported cause. After years of work, the input of countless experts, and over a million dollars of state funds, our first state water plan will sadly need to await next year's legislative session.
With an ongoing bidding war by California corporations for a major CT private water utility, a pending decision on a proposal to grant Tilcon CT access to Class I watershed land for strip mining, and the possible re-introduction of large volume water discounts to Niagara Bottling of CA by the MDC, it's ever more important to make water policy an issue in this fall's elections.
Our first State Water Plan: developed after years of work, with input by multiple expert stakeholders and with unanimous approval by 4 state agencies (DEEP, DPH, OPM, PURA). It now awaits approval at the General Assembly. A fierce last minute lobbying campaign by the water utilities and business interests (among them MDC, CWWA, and CBIA) is attempting to strip out public input and delete recognition of water as a public trust resource. Will big $$ and scare tactics win again at the legislature? Or will our elected representatives respect citizen's concerns for our vital water resources? See the advocates' statement below.
Tuesday April 17th 11AM- 4PM Legislative Office Building Rm 2C
It's here: the key Public Hearing for CT's first State Water Plan. Four committees of cognizance (Public Health, Environment, Planning & Development and Energy & Technology) will decide whether the plan is forwarded to the General Assembly for adoption. It should be a "no-brainer":
As federal regulations protecting our environment are eviscerated, it's ever more important that we let our officials know: water belongs to us all and is our most important resource.
HELP ASK the COMMITTEES to PASS the STATE WATER PLAN AS DRAFTED!
Judy Allen for the Save Our Water CT Steering Committee
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A controversial land swap has been brewing for years: Tilcon is seeking to expand its gravel mining to 131 acres of land which includes Class I and Class II watersheds. In exchange, they'll give $$ to New Britain, acreage elsewhere, and a potential new reservoir- in 40 years. Now the environmental study is out: major habitat destruction and significant species loss in the contested area. There will be more blasting, dust, and the loss of billions of gallons of filtered water from the mined area.
The worst outcome: setting a precedent for swapping our key watershed lands for corporate profits or municipal gain. Class I and II watersheds buffer our water from environmental contaminants and filter it for our aquifers. The recent State Water Plan draft lists protection of watershed land as one of its top ten priorities and re-states CT's dedication to preserving the highest quality drinking water in the nation.
If a critical appraisal of New Britain's drinking water needs demonstrates a real need for more water capacity, let's solve it in a less destructive way.
How You Can Help:
- Write an email to the Water Planning Council at firstname.lastname@example.org urging them to "Protect Our Watersheds and Reject the Tilcon Proposal". They are tasked with reviewing the recent environmental study.
- Send your email as well to the Director of the Council on Environmental Quality: Karl.Wagener@ct.gov, whose committee is also reviewing the study.
The Water Planning Council and Council on Environmental Quality will review the environmental study and comment to the City of New Britain, which will be holding a public hearing later this spring or early summer. Stay tuned.
CT Water Industry Uses Poorly Drafted Bill to Oppose Public Trust Language in State Water Plan
A recent Senate Bill SB-427, introduced by a water utility association president from southeastern CT and Sen. Formica, argued that all well water in the state- no matter how large or small- be exempted from the protections of public trust. Oral testimony, given by the CWWA lobbyist, registered their opposition to the specifics of the bill, but used it as an opportunity to urge that public trust language be struck from our State Water Plan. Save Our Water CT regards it as the opening salvo in a battle over protection of our public waters. See the bill at www.cga.ct.gov/2018/TOB/s/2018SB-00427-R00-SB.htm and read
all the testimony at www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CommDocTmyBill.asp?comm_code=env&bill=SB-00427&doc_year=2018
TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO RAISED SB 427:
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.