DEP Proposing to Restrict Water Usage, Increase Costs

11.17.2009
Issues & Policies

DEP proposing to restrict water usage, increase costs
It’s ironic that following one of the wettest and coolest summers in years, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing new regulations that would ensure that every river and stream in Connecticut has adequate water flow to support fish throughout the year.

The DEP wants to vastly expand and eventually replace its current stream flow regulations that apply only to rivers and streams the department stocks with fish.
Ultimately, the new regulations could be very costly to some businesses, municipalities and even to the state.

All rivers and streams would be classified into one of four categories based on the extent to which the natural stream flow could be allowed to be altered by human activity. Class 1 rivers and streams would be most restricted, whereas Class 4 would have the fewest restrictions. The DEP estimates this substantial initial effort will take five years, but surprisingly, claims it can be done without any cost to the department.

Once a stream is classified, owners of dams (including the state), along with owners of wells, water companies, municipalities, industries and others that draw more than 50,000 gallons per day, would have between six months and 10 years to comply with the regulations, depending on the classification of the river or stream.

Some of these entities will have to make costly upgrades of their water supply infrastructures and/or develop new water supplies to comply. Several water companies, for example, are predicting the regulations will cost them millions of dollars–an added expense that would be passed on to their customers.

Entities that already have a diversion permit (distinguished from a diversion registration) would be exempt from the requirements until their permits come up for renewal. Diversions or dams that affect only tidal waters and those used solely for fire emergency or hydroelectric power generation are also exempt.

The DEP will hold a formal public hearing on the proposed regulations at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2010, in the Phoenix Auditorium at DEP headquarters in Hartford. DEP also will hold an informational session on Dec. 21, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the same location.

Written comments may be submitted on or before Feb. 4, 2010, to Paul Stacey, DEP, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Planning & Standards Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut, 06106–5127.

CBIA encourages its members to let us know how the proposed regulations could impact your business so that we can ensure your concerns are incorporated into our lobbying efforts. The draft regulations and related documents are available by browsing through DEP’s public notice. For more information, contact Eric Brown at 860-244-1926.

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