Senate Water Bill Will Parch State’s Business Climate
Hasty action by the State Senate this week saw approval of a measure that risks Connecticut’s ability to attract and retain large manufacturing and other businesses that require large quantities of water to run their operations.
Within a few short hours after a newly amended bill for SB 422 surfaced at the Capitol, senators were called upon to cast a vote—with many of them learning of the bill’s full implications only after the vote was taken.
The vote was 24-11 in favor, with one senator absent.
The new version of SB 422 requires existing and future large water-users—such as hospitals, universities and some manufacturers—to obtain permission to do so from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through a “diversion permit.”
In addition, the bill passed by the Senate paves the way for DEEP to require hundreds of long-standing companies registered or permitted with the state, to also now obtain a new permit or face curtailment or even a shutdown of their operations.
Effectively, this would give DEEP the power to decide which new economic development projects, or manufacturing operations seeking to come to our state, would be allowed to take place or locate here–and if so, where.
SB 422 ignores the fact Connecticut already has significant laws in place to ensure water supplies are protected.
For example, water utilities must regularly demonstrate to the Department of Public Health that they have adequate supplies of water, with a sufficient margin of safety, to meet the needs of their customers for five, 10, and 50-year planning horizons.
What’s more, none of this takes into account that DEEP has less than a handful of staff to process individual water permits of any type.
A typical diversion permit takes more than a year to process.
This bill could place a crushing burden on the agency and leave hundreds of existing business in limbo for years--not to mention the negative impact on Connecticut’s ability to attract new manufacturing and other businesses.
The Connecticut State House should force this hastily drafted bill to be reviewed by additional committees to gain a better understanding of its devastating implications and ultimately reject it if it remains in its current form.
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