Broad coalition urges legislative rejection on Dec. 21

A controversial proposal from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to regulate the use of water in all Connecticut rivers and streams faces a Dec. 21 vote of the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee.

This comes after strong efforts to reach a compromise on revising the regulations failed. A broad coalition of businesses, water utilities, municipalities, labor unions and others have been urging the DEP to reasonably modify its proposal after an earlier version was unanimously rejected by the legislative committee in October.

Since then, numerous meetings between the DEP and members of the coalition were held in an effort to reach a compromise.

Coalition members voiced their concerns to the DEP but left without any assurance that those concerns would be addressed.

The coalition also submitted written revisions the DEP could have incorporated into the regulations in an effort to expedite a compromise. But when the DEP submitted its revised regulations to the Regulation Review Committee last week, many of the coalition’s key concerns were not addressed, and the suggested compromise language was not incorporated.

Among other things, the proposed regulations still:

  • Fail to ensure adequate water supplies for the public during times of drought, especially in areas served primarily by large surface water systems (such as Stamford, Trumbull, Bridgeport, Bristol, Manchester, Wallingford and Stratford)   
  • Do not address concerns regarding future economic development, including expansion of existing businesses, locating new businesses, and revitalization of brownfields, many of which are old manufacturing and industrial facilities located near rivers
  • Fail to provide enough certainty about future water sources being available and adequate to meet public health, safety and economic development needs

The DEP also included some revisions that had never been raised in stakeholder meetings and that are of concern to coalition members.

Finally, efforts to reach a compromise were hindered because the various stakeholders could not even agree on the intent and scope of authority the legislature granted to the DEP for adopting such regulations.

CBIA urges the Regulation Review Committee to reject the DEP’s revised regulations at its Dec. 21 meeting and urge the legislature, in the upcoming 2011 legislative session, to clarify its direction to the DEP.

For more information on this issue, the coalition’s latest summary of issues, or a list of coalition members, please contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.