OFFICIALS TO RECOMMEND A VOTE TO RESCIND AT PUBLIC HEARING ON DEC 5TH
MDC Commissioners will be voting on an important institutional policy immediately following a public hearing at 5 PM on Monday December 5th at their 555 Main St. Headquarters in Hartford. Top officials, including Scott Jellison, CEO and Chairman William DiBella have recommended that the volume discounts enacted last December- and as of yet unused- be rescinded AT LEAST FOR THIS YEAR.
The discounts, which could have amounted to ~$2M/year if Niagara opened 4 lines, have been vigorously opposed by the public, environmentalists, and Save Our Water CT. With over half the state in a severe drought, and the reservoirs of MDC serving as an emergency back-up for surrounding towns, exporting single-serve bottles of water out of state seemed poor public policy. In addition, incentivizing one company to use large amounts of water, while calling for conservation measures for residents made little sense.
It is unclear how the MDC commissioners will vote on Monday the 5th. Save Our Water CT is encouraging all concerned residents to voice their opinions at the meeting or by contact their MDC representatives by email or phone (themdc.org/district-board/board-members). Of note, the MDC foresees asking its member towns to weigh in on the subject of water rate discounts, which could be re-instated at any time as an "economic development" tool. Save Our Water CT notes that shareholder-owned water utilities in CT, which are regulated by P.U.R.A. (the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency), are allowed to give discounts based on the category of use and the cost to supply the water, but not based on volume. During periods of water supply shortage, volume based discounts directly contradict conservation efforts. Instead, "conservation pricing" should be instated by the public and municipal water utilities.
UPDATE ON THE CT STATE WATER PLANNING PROCESS (WPC) and the WATER UTILITY COORDINATING COMMITTEE PROCESS (WUCC)
While SAVE OUR WATER CT is fighting to prevent water extraction in CT by water bottling companies, broader water issues are playing out on the state level. Recognizing the need for more up-to-date water policy, the legislature initiated a statewide water planning process that is now taking place under the leadership of the Water Planning Council. (See State Water Planning Council ) The recommendations of this council, being worked out now by vying players including state agencies, water utilities, environmental groups and others, will go to the state legislature for action and likely have lasting impact on how our public trust water is managed and protected. We encourage you to stay informed and submit your thoughts.
Part of the Water Planning Process involves the state’s water utilities. These are the public water companies that supply our drinking water. Here in the Hartford area, that is the MDC. There are three regional Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs) whose members are public water systems and Councils of Government. WUCC website .
SAVE OUR WATER CT has been actively participating in the Central WUCC in an effort to ensure that environmental issues and public control of our public trust waters are prioritized in the WUCC process. Unfortunately, the water utilities are focused on dividing up the state waters for their control and have been resistant to including environmental issues early enough in their process to be effective. In conjunction with 19 other organizations and individuals, SAVE OUR WATER CT signed on to a letter to the WUCCs and Water Planning Council stating, in part:
"We the undersigned urge you, in your process of water-supply planning, to reconsider your decision to delay evaluation of environmental issues until after water-supply exclusive service areas (ESAs) have been assigned". Formal Communication to the Connecticut WUCCs and the Water Planning Council
You can read the full letter and the WUCCs disappointing response here.
The public is welcome at all WUCC meetings and we encourage individuals interested in protecting our public trust waters to become involved. The next meeting of the Central WUCC: November 16, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. The MDC Training Center, 125 Maxim Road, Hartford, CT.
By Donna Landerman, SAVE OUR WATER CT. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom of Information Commission Hearing: Valerie Rossetti vs. Commissioner, CT Department of Public Health Nov 1, 2016
Listen in as the Dept. of Public Health (DPH) responds to a request for the 2008 MDC Water Supply Plan: ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=13391
On March 1, 2016 Valerie Rossetti of Save Our Water submitted a request to the DPH to view the most recent MDC Water Supply Plan - or any portions of it open to the public. That request went unfulfilled. The DPH reportedly sent the plan to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) for redaction, a process whereby information on the truly critical infrastructure is blacked out for security reasons in keeping with a 2022 federal law. Months passed. Late in August, Rossetti was informed that she would receive NONE of the plan. According to the DPH, the MDC had submitted its multi-volume plan to the Department of Homeland Security shortly after Save Our Water's request, resulting in the entire plan being ruled off limits to the public.
The timing of the MDC request was "coincidental", which may well be true.....However earlier in the year, the water authority, the governor's office, and multiple environmental groups had been in negotiations over access to water supply information in order to do wise state water planning. Unbeknownst to those groups, the MDC -alone among CT utilities- had forwarded its plan to Homeland Security. is that negotiating in good faith?
Why the request for the water supply plan. Save Our Water certainly does not want to put at risk any truly critical water infrastructure. however, it's important that the public and environmental advocates actually KNOW where their water is coming from, where it goes, how much of it there actually is, and what the projections for future needs are.
The MDC has been guilty of some "doublespeak" in the past year. For example, it represented to the public that it had no choice or control over to whom it supplies water. If there's enough, anyone who asks for it gets it. Then it was revealed that the MDC "jumped over hoops" to accommodate Niagara, including a series of emails discovered under a FOI request that showed the private corporation demanding- and receiving- special discounts never before provided by the MDC. Although the public was told that the MDC had more than enough water and that a multi-year drought in CT was unlikely, here we are with the first in history state drought declared by Governor Malloy. With 2 large reservoirs containing a multi-year supply of drinking water, the MDC represents that it has plenty. But does the rest of the state? Ask Greenwich, Norwalk, New Britain, Manchester, Storrs, and others. Of even more concern is the environmental need for enough water to keep our aquatic environments and recreation healthy. Mr. Jellison, MDC's has stated that if stream flow requirements are met, the drought triggers for MDC would have been hit multiple times already. Should we be sending water out of state in single serve plastic bottles while our streams lack enough water to keep fish healthy?
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.