Rivers Alliance strongly supports this proposed regulation. We
regard it as clarification and validation of the statutory intent to
provide exemptions from the Water Diversion Policy Act to, at most,
water system distribution areas in use in 1983, when diversion
registrations were filed.
The Water Diversion Policy Act (1982) set up a
permitting system for water diversions in order to ensure that
environmental and ecological protections were in place as far as
possible when new sources of water supply were being developed. (A
diversion is any pumping of water or taking of surface water.) Existing
diversions were exempted from the requirement for a permit and, thus,
from environmental review, so long as they reported these diversions to
Since the founding or Rivers Alliance in 1992, we
have seen that overuse of registrations harms streams year after year,
and has led to the most bitter water controversies, including the
following: the Shepaug River case (town and land trusts versus
Waterbury); the Mill River case in New Haven; the drying up of the
Fenton River by UConn; the proposal to pipe water from the Farmington
River watershed to UConn; and the sale of large volumes of registered
water for retail distribution beyond the service area and even the
The creation and realignment of exclusive service
areas in the WUCC process is especially concerning because only water
utilities are WUCC members, with one representative from each Council of
Governments. Each of the three WUCCs has hundreds of
members, but no members representing customers or the
environment. The proposed amendment is essential to protect state
waters. In fact we feel it should have been made stronger by reflecting
the original statute rather than subsequent embellishments.
We believe it is necessary to make this regulatory
change immediately because Water Utility Coordinating Committees
(WUUCs), established by law under the oversight of the Department of
Public Health, have dramatically accelerated the effort to establish
exclusive service areas statewide, leaving no corner of the state
without an exclusive service area, even if no utility is yet present in
the area. In the last few years, service areas have been combined,
expanded, and redrawn. This matters because utilities have
been granted exemptions from diversion permitting req Thus, a
utility that wants to sell, say, 5 million gallons of water per day,
could by acquisition or other merger send that water out of basin,
through numerous towns, to new customers, without any environmental
review of the diversion, as long as it had access to the 5 million
gallons under the registration filed in 1983.
Here are remarks that we have made to our network:
“[DEEP] has officially announced a regulatory
amendment to put a stop to the ever- expanding claims by water utilities
for areas in which they can divert large quantities of water without
any environmental review. In 1982, water utilities were given
certain grandfathered rights to keep control of waters they were already
managing. The grandfathered rights depended upon a utility
registering with the state its water systems, the volume of water,
its uses, and a description of the system. These filings are called
registrations. The process has had unforeseen consequences.
Approximately 75 percent of the volume of
water supply is taken through a registration, with no permitting or
environmental review required. or environmental review
Approximately 84 percent of allowed water
takings for water supply are done through registrations, not
permits. There is no environmental review. There is no need even
to show that the volume of water allocated in a registration actually
This means that in Connecticut a registration can be used to take all the water out of a stream. For
example, registrations allowing the pumping of water from the watershed
of Coppermine Brook in Bristol amount to 36.6 million gallons per
day! There isn’t that much water in the stream. In the last two
years, it has been totally dried up, just above a state trout
To make matters worse, it appears that
utilities can pipe registered water far beyond the areas that they
served in 1982, when the Water Diversion Policy Act set up the
Water system distribution areas became service
areas, which became something called exclusive service areas, sometimes
capped as Exclusive Service Areas (which sounds more important).
Exclusive service areas, recently and
currently, are being created, redrawn, merged, and expanded by Water
Utility Coordinating Committees, or WUCCs. The aim is to
create a mosaic of utility monopolies in which customers are allocated
to one utility or another. DPH has long pursued the unification of
water suppliers because the hundreds of small suppliers pose regulatory
difficulties. (The position of Rivers Alliance is that, if this
mosaic pattern and a trend toward unification represent state policy,
then advocates for customers and the environment should have a
IN THE PROPOSED REGULATION AMENDMENT, DEEP
DRAWS A LINE THAT SAYS: A UTILITY SHALL NO LONGER BE EXEMPT
FROM ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING WHEN IT MOVES WATER INTO NEWLY BALLOONING
AND MERGED EXCLUSIVE SERVICE AREAS.
Margaret Miner, Executive Director Rivers Alliance of CT
South Central Coastal River Basins Proposed Stream Flow Classifications
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
(DEEP) has prepared maps of proposed Stream Flow Classifications for the
South Central Coastal River Basins. These classifications will
determine how well the river is treated under the Stream Flow
Regulation. Class 1 is reserved for streams with high-quality flows,
which are to be protected under the regulation. Class 2 includes streams
able to support river fish, although there may be problem areas. Class 3
includes rivers used for water supply; they are all impaired to some
extent, but the regulation specifies the quantity of flow that must be
maintained under various conditions. Class 4 would include rivers
assumed to be largely hopeless, as a result of flow interruptions and
contamination, but these streams will ne initially classified as Class
Public information sessions were held at the
South Central Regional Council of Governments in North Haven on June 9,
2015. A short presentation on how the Stream Flow Classification maps
were developed was given, copies of the maps were available for
inspection, and Department staff was on hand to answer questions at
these information sessions.
The maps, and more information, are available online at http:// www.ct.gov/ deep/ cwp/ view.asp.
Such maps include river and stream segments in the following towns:
Ansonia, Berlin, Bethany, Branford, Bristol, Cheshire, Chester, Clinton,
Deep River, Derby, Durham, East Haven, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Hamden,
Killingworth, Madison, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Milford, New
Britain, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Old Saybrook, Orange,
Plainville, Prospect, Southington, Wallingford, Westbrook, West Haven,
Wolcott, and Woodbridge.
This may be of particular interest to friends of the Quinnipiac
River, Branford River, West River, and East Rivers in Guilford, the
Hammonasset River, Menunketesuck River, Patchogue River, the Oyster
River, the Indian River, Chatfield Hollow Brook, Neck River, Farm River,
Mill River, and West River New Haven, Milford's Indian River and
Wepawaug River, Hamden's Wintergreen Brook, Wharton Brook, Muddy River,
Willow Brook, Tenmile River, Sodom Brook, Broad Brook, Harbor Brook, and
Rivers Alliance Comments on Towantic Power Plant Proposal for Oxford
The public turned out in large numbers (hundreds) on January 15,
2015, for a Siting Council site visit and public hearing on the proposed
power plant in Oxford. The event was covered in the print press and
television. Rivers Alliance was involved in negotiations for the
original, smaller facility permitted in 1999. The current plant has
almost twice the capacity. Rivers Alliance expressed concern over the
large out-of-basin water transfer being planned. This would be between
200,000 and one million gallons per day from the small Pomperaug River
watershed to the Naugatuck River wastewater treatment plant. Rivers Alliance comments are below.Click here for the comments of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, which has become a party to the proceedings.
TO: The Connecticut Siting Council, January 15, 2015
FROM: Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
RE: Docket 192B Towantic Energy LLC
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut is the statewide, non-profit
coalition of river organizations, individuals, and businesses formed to
protect and enhance Connecticut's waters by promoting sound water
policies, uniting and strengthening the state's many river groups, and
educating the public about the importance of water stewardship. Our 450
members include almost all of the stateï¿½s river and watershed
conservation groups, representing many thousand Connecticut residents.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this application for a
modified Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for a
dual-cycle power plant in Oxford. Rivers Alliance first encountered the
proposal for this plant in 1999, accompanying Dr. Marc Taylor
(co-founder of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition) in some of his
negotiations with the applicant and the staff of the Siting Council.
Rivers Alliance simultaneously was an intervenor in two other dual-cycle
plants proposed in Connecticut at that time.
The obvious problem associated with the proposed Oxford plant in 1999
was that a large facility was to be sited on a small river. Now an even
larger facility is being proposed on the same small and evidently more
stressed watershed. You have heard objections to this plan for many,
many reasons. We will speak only of the water aspects of the project.
We rely with confidence on the testimony of the Pomperaug River
Watershed Coalition (PRWC) for data and analysis. As you know, PRWC is a
science-oriented organization. Back in 1999, on a close call, Dr.
Taylor eschewed outright opposition to the plant, asking instead for
protective conditions and more science studies of the river and
watershed. Thanks to a major investment by PRWC and the state of
Connecticut, we now do have more science; and it confirms the
common-sense perception that this plant is problematic, posing
significant risk to water resources.
Prominent questions include:
Is the necessary water guaranteed to be available from the Heritage
utility at all times going forward? If not, is there a plan B?
Will the Naugatuck sewage treatment plant be able to handle the increased volume without further impairment of the river?
The water will be conveyed out of the basin. Can the applicant
demonstrate that the proposed water withdrawals will not impair water
quality and aquatic life in the watershed? At what point will the
applicant commit to shutting down the facility if impairments of the
resource or supply shortages are occurring? Who will enforce the
Will the goal be no degradation of the resource? What are the
relevant groundwater and surface-water classifications in the 2014
Integrated Water Quality Report prepared under the Clean Water Act? What
is a healthy streamflow for the river?
Why is the new plant larger rather than smaller than the previously
permitted facility? Approval by the Siting Council in 1999 was clearly a
close call. Are there feasible, more modest alternatives to the size
and operational functions?
Given the water demand, why is there not more water storage on site?
Wetlands number 1 has apparently grown in area. Whatï¿½s going on
there? How can total filling of a wetlands be a minimal wetlands impact?
Was anyone monitoring the filling already done? Can this wetlands
impact be avoided? If mitigation is planned, who will oversee the
project long term?
Have diversions and allocations in the watershed changed since 1999?
For example, there is a relatively new diversion (impoundment) permitted
to Woodbury Ski and Racquet, which decreases downstream flow to the
Pomperaug because of snow-making.
Who will enforce conditions imposed by the Siting Council and see to
it that the plant is constructed and operated as described? Lack of
oversight and enforcement is a recurring problem in the stateï¿½s
infrastructure work. (At the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown, confusion
as to authorities and processes on site led not only to harm to the
river but, later, to a lethal explosion.)
One non-water comment: The estimate of permanent jobs created seems
way too high. New, efficient power plants can be managed with very few
I know that you will give this application full attention and carefully analyze all alternatives.
Margaret Miner Executive Director
Connecticut Stream Flow Classificationssss
October 7, 2014
Status Update: CT DEEP has finished classifying streams in the
NE area of the state as required by the streamflow-protection law of
2012. Click here for the relevant DEEP web page.
The text there reads in part:
The stream flow classifications for the Southeast Coastal,
Pawcatuck and Thames Major Basins have been finalized as of October
Those of you who commented (or intended to) may be
especially interested in the Statement of Reasons: Response to Comments.
Many of the same issues will come up as DEEP moves to classify the
streams in the South Central Coast area of the state. Rivers Alliance
will publicize the draft classifications as they become available for