Connecticut’s environmental agency continues to push for aggressive new regulations and standards that will hurt state residents, businesses and the economy--without significantly improving the environment.

The latest attempts are proposed “stream flow” regulations from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that would limit the use of water by farmers, businesses, municipalities and families across the state.

Driving the DEP’s proposed water regulations are climate change predictions for increases in both droughts and heavy rains in the Northeast that could put fish at risk because of low stream and river flows. But the DEP itself said just last week that “Connecticut is blessed with abundant water resources … .”

And the agency’s own records show that far fewer than 1% of the state’s rivers and streams are “impaired” due to low flow in the warm-weather months.

The proposed regulations, however, would create a massive statewide regulatory program that, among other things, will make it harder to attract businesses and bring jobs to the state by increasing costs and lowering reliability.

For example, water utilities say the proposed regulations will reduce water supplies for state residents by 10% to 40%. It will burden municipalities and water companies with hundreds of millions in new compliance costs that will be passed on to taxpayers and customers, both commercial and residential.

Opening the door to the DEP regulations was a state law passed in 2005 in a classic government overreaction. Lawmakers were alarmed when the Fenton River in Storrs (near the University of Connecticut) dried up after a very hot summer—and when thousands of students returned to dorms and apartments at nearby UConn.

To its credit, UConn took quick action with local and state officials to address the problem. Still, to this day, that single incident continues to be the primary justification used by DEP and environmentalists to promote stricter water regulations.

CBIA urges the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee to reject these and any other unnecessary regulations the DEP is rushing to finalize before a new administration takes over in January. Instead, state leaders should work to make sure the most critical environmental challenges are addressed effectively and with greater sensitivity toward the impact on our economy and jobs. -- Eric Brown

Eric Brown is a CBIA associate counsel. He may be reached at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.