The state House has overwhelmingly passed a proposal (HB 5424) to develop a water resources plan for Connecticut and the measure now awaits action in the Senate, which is expected to act on it soon. 

HB 5424 authorizes the Connecticut Water Policy Council (WPC) to prepare a plan for the management of Connecticut’s water resources by July 1, 2017, and submit it for legislative review by Jan. 1, 2018.

The legislation strengthens the current function of the WPC, which is represented by the Office of Policy Management (OPM), Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), with financial backing. It also provides guidance on the goals and criteria that the water resources plan should meet.

Emphasis on Regional Approach

Having a state water resources plan would help eliminate the state’s fragmented oversight of water quality, distribution, and conservation standards. The bill specifically identifies regional councils, the various state agencies currently involved with water regulations in the planning process. 

The plan would have to incorporate flood management zones, streamflow data, and municipal ordinances promoting the Connecticut Model Water Use Restrictions for municipal water emergencies. 

In addition, the proposed legislation requires the state water resources plan to consider the potential impact of climate change on the availability and abundance of water resources and the importance of climate resiliency, along with technology and infrastructure upgrades and interconnections.

Ample Time for Public Input 

Once a water plan has been prepared, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment for at least 120 days before the plan is finalized.  Public input will be the basis for the WPC’s plan revisions. Websites established by DEEP, DPH, OPM, and PURA will be used to post the draft plan and there will be public meetings to address concerns. 

The Senate is expected to pass the House version of the proposed Connecticut Water Resources Plan.   

For more information, email Faith Gavin Kuhn.