Sand Jose Water submits regulatory application to acquire CT Water Company
CT's WATER FOR SALE: San Jose Water (SJW) of California is currently seeking regulatory approval to acquire CT Water Co., one of CT's largest private water utilities. Last year, Aquarion Water Co. was bought by Eversource. Who will have the right to store and distribute (i.e. control) large volumes of CT's water? Many, many questions are being raised. Is this in the public's best interest? What will be done with any lands SJW wishes to sell off? Will it support the proposed State Water Plan? Does it regard water as a public trust resource? Are there potential conflicts of interest, given SJW is an out-of-state for-profit company which also has interests in real estate development? Will it be a good steward of our water sources and water infrastructure? Hopefully CT is not to become the land of "water opportunity" with a reasonably plentiful supply and "a favorable regulatory climate".
PLEASE SEE RIVERS ALLIANCE WEBSITE http://www.riversalliance.org/Top…/Water_Infrastructure.php… for an in-depth discussion. Details on submitting a comment or question to the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency, are also provided there: Docket # 18-07-10.
Save Our Water CT has submitted the following comments and questions to the Public Utility Regulatory Agency for its consideration in this deliberation:
September 2, 2018
Re: Docket 18-07-10 [Application of SJW Group and Connecticut Water Service, Inc. for Approval of Change of Control].
We are writing on behalf of Save Our Water CT to share our concerns regarding the acquisition of Connecticut Water Service, Inc. by SJW Group.
Save Our Water CT is a citizen-activist group that formed in early 2016 in response to Niagara Bottling’s negotiations with the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Town of Bloomfield to bring a large water bottling plant to Bloomfield. In 2012 the MDC proposed an 18 mile out-of-basin transfer of water to UConn. During the last two and a half years we have witnessed a serious, prolonged state drought; a reluctance and outright refusal by water utilities to publicly release non-security-sensitive water supply plan details; industrial rate discounting of water that rewards increased usage as opposed to conservation; and the opposition of the business and water utility lobby to the already-established statute referencing water as a public trust resource (CT G.S. 22a-15). Consequently, we have been following news of the proposed “change of control” of Connecticut Water Service with interest. Quoting briefly from page 3 of the joint application:
“The Authority has also found that it has a statutory responsibility, inherent under Title 16 of the General Statutes, to ensure that the change of control is in the public interest…… The change of control is in the public interest as it is expected to provide benefits to customers by providing opportunities to increase the reliability and adequacy of water service, to increase access to capital, and to improve customer service. Moreover, in the long run the Transaction will provide opportunities to reduce costs through economies of scale and operating efficiencies which will benefit customers by exerting downward pressure on rates.”
Our expectation and hope is that PURA will take a sufficiently broad view of what constitutes “the public interest” in considering this application. We think that Connecticut state agencies have an obligation to consider long-term impacts on all Connecticut citizens and on the environment in proposed “changes in control” of public trust resources – not just the proposed new company’s customers.
Apart from the question of whether the proposed acquisition would actually deliver to customers those purported benefits it is “expected” to provide, the acquisition would impact more than the company’s customers. For example:
We hope that PURA will take time to thoroughly and thoughtfully review this application. Connecticut water is a public trust resource and citizens are relying on you to safeguard that resource.
Thank you for your consideration.
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.