State Water Resource Plan Bill in Environment Committe
A proposal before the Environment Committee requires the state’s Water Planning Council (WPC) to prepare a state water plan for the management of Connecticut’s water resources by Jan. 1, 2017.
Essentially, HB 5424 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 along with goals and criteria that the water resource plan should include.
Financing the Planning Process
As proposed, staffing at the existing Water Planning Council (WPC) would increase with four full-time analysts, housed at the Office of Policy Management (OPM). The four analysts would be responsible for creating a single water planning document that all state water regulators – DEEP, DPH, PURA, and OPM- share.
HB 5424 requests a total of $500,000 to cover the cost of the four analysts, and $1 million to the state Department of Health, from the state’s General Fund, for consulting services to review and reorganize the state’s seven water utility coordinating committees.
Also in HB 5424 is a proposal to add an additional $50,000 per year in state bond money to improve drinking water systems throughout the state.
Streamlining Water State Water Policy
Underlining HB 5424 is the effort to have a less fragmented approach in Connecticut for overseeing water standards and requirements. Water is already highly regulated in Connecticut. DPH has the country’s highest drinking water standards; DEEP regulates groundwaters, rivers, streams, dams, aquifers, stormwater discharges, and streamflow, along with water diversion and discharge permits; PURA sets water rates; and OPM coordinates the finances of the state’s water programs. HB 5424 places the statewide planning responsibility and oversight in OPM, and DEEP, PUR, and DPH would report to OPM for their part in implementing the state water resource plan.
For more information, email Faith Gavin Kuhn.
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