Next year is shaping up to be one in which state environmental regulators and legislators are likely to make major decisions affecting Connecticut businesses and economic development for many years to come.

CBIA’s Environmental Policies Council (EPC) is involved in deliberations that could shape those decisions.

Water

Connecticut is blessed with many high-quality surface waters and groundwaters. The state is a national leader in the field of water management and protection, having instituted many first-in-the-nation programs, including aquifer protection, stream-flow protection, wetland restoration, and laws pertaining to the withdrawal of groundwaters.

In 2001, the state created a Water Planning Council comprised of officials from three different agencies.

The council was charged with identifying issues and strategies to bridge the gap between the water supply planning process and water resources management “in order that water can be appropriately allocated to balance competing needs while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of Connecticut and minimizing adverse economic and environmental effects.”

Statewide Strategic Plan

Despite these initiatives and the tremendous progress that’s been made, there will be renewed focus in 2014 on the need for a statewide strategic water management plan and additional statutes and regulations to implement the plan.

Last month, a Water Summit was held at the State Capitol with over a dozen legislators and scores of experts and advocates to begin the process of preparing a comprehensive strategic plan that addresses “supply, distribution, quality, protection, conservation, administration/oversight . . . infrastructure, energy, public health, environment, land use, agriculture, economic development/business/manufacturing, municipalities, school/universities, fishing/recreation and emergency planning.”

Subcommittees are expected to be formed with meetings to begin early in 2014 or sooner. CBIA was invited and participated in the summit.

New Water Protection Initiative

The state Department of Public Health is launching a new initiative designed to “work toward protecting public health and economic development in Connecticut by developing long-term strategies for the protection of public drinking water supply sources.”

The work will be guided by a Source Water Collaborative comprised of policymakers, development interests, and the business community. The group will hold its first meeting as a workshop in early December, and CBIA was invited to be a member of the collaborative.

Water Quality Standards Regulation Revisions

DEEP is currently reviewing the state’s Water Quality Standards (WQS) and taking comments on possible changes. The department says the review is being conducted to evaluate the need to update or revise the WQS in order to remain consistent with state and federal law.

However, the agency is accepting comments through Dec. 16 on any aspect of the standards, with a particular interest in aspects that may have broad implications for businesses.

DEEP expects to complete its review of the WQS, including any comments received, by the end of January. Thanks to legislation spearheaded by CBIA’s EPC two years ago, any proposed changes will be subject to the full regulatory adoption process, including approval by the legislature’s regulation review committee.

The agency hopes that process will be completed by the end of 2014, upon which the revisions would be submitted to EPA for their approval.

To learn more, and how to become an EPC member and be part of the effort to make Connecticut’s environmental policies more compatible with economic growth, contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.