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Rivers Alliance of CT Priority Topic State Water Planning

River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Priority Topics

State Water Planning

2017

2016


State Water Planning - Archives                                                                          Back to Priority Topics

2017


 River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning >

September 2017. 

Please see CT Draft State Water Plan - A Guide to the Plan and Comments 


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning >

June 2017

Eversource To Buy Aquarion (See Sep 22 PURA Closes Hearing on Eversource / Aquarion Water Merger )

Eversource energy company announced on June 3 that it is buying Aquarion water company from Macquarie Bank of Australia for $1.675 billion. Eversource (formerly named Northeast Utilities) supplies power regionally, including to most of Connecticut. Aquarion (formerly Bridgeport Hydraulic) is the largest private water company in the region and dominates supply in western Connecticut. Residents in that area will now be served by a single private utility for power and water. Some of Eversource's recent practices have not been friendly to the environment, including the extensive clear-cutting it is doing in its transmission rights of way. Approval of the merger is in the hands of utility regulators, so customers and environmental advocates can be heard. Click here for a map of Aquarion's existing and claimed service areas in Connecticut.

See also PURA Closes Hearing on Eversource / Aquarion Water Merger


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning >

May 26 Talk by Mary Ann Dickinson Relevant to State Water Plan

Connecticut Water Co. sponsored a talk by Mary Ann Dickinson of the Alliance for Water Efficiency on Friday, May 26th, on water conservation topics and trends. The meeting was held at the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) New Britain. Dickinson is a nationally recognized expert on water supply efficiency and conservation. She is also a former Connecticut resident and agency staffer, familiar with our water laws and policies. The topic is highly relevant to the draft state water plan and goals of protecting the state’s water resources. Rivers Alliance will be most interested in her ideas on conservation water pricing, that is, pricing of water that avoids discounts for high-volume users and provides incentives for water supply conservation. A number of water companies in the state resist this approach to pricing. Others are more receptive.


May 19, 2017

Your Help Is Needed: please suggest examples of streams and watersheds that are stressed, pristine, or on the edge for the State Water Plan and for other water-protection work

The Connecticut State Water Plan will include a few examples of streams and watersheds that are representative of different conditions of health: stressed, pristine, or on the edge of one category or the other.

Rivers Alliance and other advocacy groups have been active participants in the development of what is now a Draft State Water Plan. Rivers Alliance, since 2002, has kept a list of low-flow rivers, and we have also tried to track conditions in high-quality state streams, such as state trout management areas.

The Draft State Water Plan was presented by the Water Planning Council on May 16. It will be available for general public comment next month. We will keep you posted.

You -- our members and the network of river advocates -- are the most knowledgeable river people to whom we can turn. We would welcome suggestions from you on which river watersheds would be good examples for these three categories. Your recommendations may be used in the state plan and will be used to update our own body of information on state streams.

Please email rivers@riversalliance.org with the subject line "Plan Examples" and recommend river systems you are familiar with that would make good examples of pristine, stressed, on the edge watersheds. We would be interested in your own experience at the local level. We are especially interested in information regarding rivers on the cusp -- those that could improve or become worse in the near future.

Thanks for your help on this important step in the development of your State Water Plan. As always, feel free to ask us anything (water related) at 860-361-9349 or rivers@riversalliance.org.

Here is what we have heard from our members and friends so far:

  • In our watershed the Norwalk River is a class B river, but the Comstock Brook is pristine and used by Aquarion for drinking water. Trout live in the Comstock, but the brook is drained dry most summers by the water company. Also a recent study by the DEEP of surface waters shows elevated levels of e-coli. There are two large developments that the town is considering now that will directly threaten the water quality in the brook. Let me know if you are interested in more information on the Comstock Brook. 
  • May I suggest Towantic Pond (11-acre spring-fed pond) located downstream of the CPV power plant on Woodruff Hill. DEEP came & drained the swamps/wetlands last week around here, claiming it was "routine maintenance of the beaver destruction."
  • The Scantic River would be a good candidate. I have been monitoring water chemistry since 2010 and E.coli levels in the summer since 2015. There is one section of the river that DEEP has already identified as having issues with high levels of bacteria, but there are additional issues throughout the river (old landfills, brownfield sites, heavy agricultural use, dams, etc.).
  • Groton, CT:
    On the edge: Eccleston Brook (impacted by Bel-Aire subdivision drains and Rt. 1 intersection, gas station); Hempstead Brook (Rt 184 development); Hatching House Brook - threatened WRPD buffer/development proposals; Bindloss Brook - drains from subdivision; Mystic River - current and proposed development threats;
    Pristine: Haley Brook in Ledyard and Groton, Great Brook
    Stressed: Birch Plain Creek, and the entire Baker Cove watershed where many streams are piped underground; Thames River; lower Fort Hill Brook - impacts from Ring Drive condos, untreated drainage from Route 1, sewer treatment plant overflows, Sutton Park impervious and turf drainage
  • Thank you for your work and for asking for input from CUSH. We have been monitoring the Pawcatuck and Mystic watersheds for nine years and would like to suggest the following:
    1. Pawcatuck River - stressed and contributing to worsening health and algal bloom in Little Narragansett Bay.
    2. Wequetequock Cove (including Oxecosset and Anguilla Brooks) - stressed and also contributing to algal blooms in LNB.
    3. Mystic River - on the cusp (including Whitford Brook, which had a consistent bacteria problem in 2016).
    Wish I could include some pristine sites. While Anguilla Brook has been historically good, we have not monitored there for several years and remain concerned because the health of Wequetequock Cove continues to deteriorate.
  • The Mattabesset River. It flows through numerous municipalities (Middletown, Cromwell, Berlin, Kensington, maybe New Britain) and picks up a lot of storm runoff from streets, parking lots, etc. along the way. It is very degraded and has very low flow in mid-summer. 
  • Latimer Brook, a tributary to the Niantic River, is a good example of a stressed stream. Latimer Brook is located in Montville and East Lyme, and the Latimer Brook watershed is part of the public drinking water supply for the City of New London. From 2008 to 2013 USGS maintained a stream gauge on Latimer Brook to monitor discharge as part of a study of the Niantic River, so a good record exists for evaluation. In 2013-2014 and 2015-2016, subsequent to the adoption of CT's streamflow regulations, ECCD partnered with CT DEEP and USGS to conduct a streamflow study to document how water withdrawals affected streamflow in Latimer Brook. This past year, Latimer Brook was listed by DEEP as impaired for aquatic habitat, due to an overall lack of fish species and population numbers. The suspected cause is flow impairment due to drinking water withdrawals. The Niantic River Watershed Committee is working with DEEP to continue to evaluate the stream, and will be conducting temperature monitoring this summer to see how low flows are affecting stream temperature. While I'm sure there are many streams in CT that are stressed due to similar circumstances, I would recommend Latimer Brook because of the body of data that already exists, and federal/state/local partnerships that are continuing to collect data to evaluate the stream further.
  • Merrick and Beaver Brook, Scotland, CT - Pristine watersheds.

CT DEEP's Integrated Water Resource Management program identifies Selected Waters for Action Plan Development. The river systems identified for Restoration (aka stressed) are:

  • Northwest CT: Bantam Lake Watershed (tributary to the Shepaug, Housatonic rivers).

  •  South-central CT: Quinnipiac headwaters, lower Quinnipiac, Farm River (a tributary to the Quinnipiac).

  • Southwest CT: Still River and Limekiln Brook (tributaries to the Housatonic), lower Saugatuck, lower Norwalk, Silvermine, Rooster, Mill rivers.

  • North-central CT: Rainbow and Seymour Hollow Brooks (tributaries to the Farmington, Connecticut), lower Scantic River (tributary to the Connecticut).

  • Southeast CT: Stoney Brook, Niantic, Mystic rivers.

The river systems identified for Protection (aka pristine) are:

  • Southwest CT: Saugatuck River headwaters.

  • Northeast CT: Natchaug and Mt Hope watersheds (tributaries to Willimantic, Thames).

  • Southeast CT: Eightmile River and East Branch (tributaries of the Connecticut River), Ashaway River and lower Pawcatuck.

From Rivers Alliance's Know Your Flow webpage, we looked at our low-flow list counts from the 10 consecutive lists Dec 8, 2016-Feb 21, 2017. This was when drought conditions were starting to improve.

  • Stressed: Seven stream gages were on all 10 out of 10: FARMINGTON RIVER AT TARIFFVILLE, FARMINGTON RIVER AT UNIONVILLE, FIVEMILE RIVER NEAR NEW CANAAN, HOCKANUM RIVER NEAR EAST HARTFORD, QUINNIPIAC RIVER AT SOUTHINGTON, SAUGATUCK RIVER BELOW SAUGATUCK RESERVIOR, WEST BRANCH FARMINGTON RIVER AT RIVERTON.

  • On edge: The average count for all 62 gages was 5.6 lists, median of 6. Seven stream gages were on 6 out of 10 lists: HUBBARD RIVER NEAR WEST HARTLAND, MILL RIVER NEAR FAIRFIELD, NAUGATUCK RIVER AT BEACON FALLS, POMPERAUG RIVER AT SOUTHBURY, SAUGATUCK RIVER NEAR REDDING, SHEPAUG RIVER AT PETERS DAM AT WOODVILLE, STILL RIVER AT ROBERTSVILLE.

  • Pristine: Three gages were not on any of the ten: HOUSATONIC RIVER AT FALLS VILLAGE, LITTLE RIVER AT HARRISVILLE, PENDELTON HILL BROOK NEAR CLARKS FALLS.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning >

Update on State Water Planning

Here follows a summary of events in state water planning as of March. The next big news regarding water planning will come in June, when the draft state plan is released for public comment. Meanwhile all meetings related to water planning are listed on our website at http://riversalliance.org/wp/ourwaterct/

Summary

In 2014, the state embarked on a project of comprehensive state water planning. The effort accelerated in 2016, led by the Water Planning Council and consultant CDM Smith. Some 10 overlapping policy groups have been meeting regularly throughout last year and this year. The purpose of the plan is to provide for, or allocate, water for supply (water in pipes) and water for streams and other natural waters. Concurrently, the Department of Public Health and water utilities are developing a statewide water-supply plan. Both the comprehensive plan and the water supply plan are supposed to be finished and ready for distribution and comment by this summer.  

The comprehensive plan will consist of descriptions of state water programs and policies, identification of problems and opportunities, and recommendations on how to move forward. Much of this is already written in draft form. The process has highlighted the tension between the goal of healthy natural waters and the goal of abundant water supply of the highest quality (as exists in upland streams and aquifers). While there are many areas of agreement, only time will tell if natural waters will be valued fairly and protected reliably.  

The planning being done by water companies is divided into three regional sections with the results eventually to be integrated into a statewide supply plan. All water companies (more than 2,000 of them) are in one of three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs) corresponding to each region; the only representation in the WUCCs is one member from each of the state's nine Councils of Government (COGS). The prime goal of the WUCCs is to allocate customers and sources into exclusive service areas no later than the finish date of the comprehensive water plan. This tight deadline resulted in shortchanging the assessment of regional conditions and problems, which is supposed to be complete before exclusive service areas are established. The WUCCs have gathered a great deal of data, which will be useful, but they have not fully translated that data into coherent assessments of conditions and problems. These assessments, when done, could be valuable for water planning.  

A surprise WUCC function popped up last summer, when a restaurateur wanted to open a steakhouse in Litchfield. The restaurant needed a well as water supply. It seems that, under a long-neglected law, any person or business or municipality that wants to develop a project with a new source of water for the public has to get WUCC approval before moving forward.  

In the case of the steakhouse, the nearest utility, Aquarion, stated that their supply infrastructure was five miles away, so the restaurant could develop its water source using Department of Health standards. Another facet of this section of WUCC law is that the dominant utility having an exclusive service area is supposed to be responsible for providing water to anyone in its service area. This also came into play last year in an effort to create a large, multi-unit housing complex in Bridgewater. The developer assured concerned citizens that there would be adequate water supply because Aquarion would "own" it. But Aquarion had not yet signed off.    

As with comprehensive water planning, it is still too early to tell if WUCCs will provide a net benefit to consumers and the environment. The law and the process do have potential for good, but they do add another one of those dreaded "new layers of bureaucracy."


2016

Dec 16, 2016

Streamlined Comment Process for Drought Plan (Due Dec 16, 2016)

Drought Plan written comments are due to PURA no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2016.

At the request of Rivers Alliance, PURA is streamlining the commenting process: you can now e-mail them in an attachment to Linda Baez, at Linda.Baez@ct.gov. Be sure to include the phrase "16-10-12 Drought Plan Comments" and your name or the name any organization(s) you are representing in the subject line of the e-mail to Ms. Baez.

Ms. Baez will post the comments under the subject Docket, print a hard copy and put the hard copy of the comments in the Docket file.

PURA's link to the draft report (click here)

Should you experience problems attempting to file comments through the Authority's Web Filing System, please contact the Help Desk at DEEP.Helpdesk@ct.gov or by calling 860-424-3882.

Comments from Rivers Alliance

The drought plan is a thoughtful, informative, and exceptionally well written document. The science is excellent. We thank the Drought Plan Workgroup for undertaking this important task. But we see some barriers to implementation and have a few other concerns. Our major concerns are addressed to some extent by in the cover letter to the Plan, which should be read carefully. 

The state's drought planning is done primarily by the Interagency Drought Workgroup, which consists of experts from different state agencies and was established informally in the 1980s. The group's authority has not been clearly defined. It lacks a clear organizational structure for setting work goals and making decisions. 

There is an important emphasis on collecting vital data for drought planning and response. For example, the plan outlines the importance of tasks to: "Regularly monitor the primary indicators of drought; systematically collect, analyze, and disseminate real-time drought related information. ... Identify geographic extent of dry conditions and determine affected regions." But it is not clear who in the government is responsible to accumulate the information regularly, by what methods, and to whoM does that person(s) report?

It is critically important that the makeup and responsibilities of the IDW be established in some sort of official instrument. Where there is a collection of professionals, there should be some sort of process for dealing with split opinions. Without a better structure, there will be a lack of predictability and accountability.

The Plan offers new, different names for drought stages that differ from those used by water utilities, those currently used by the state, and those used by some national organizations. We feel the addition of new names is confusing, even though intended to avoid confusion. Our feeling is that utilities and others should follow state guidelines, using the same terms for the same conditions.

A regional or nationwide drought monitor, such as the U.S. Drought Monitor, could be used as a threshold standard for deciding drought stages. It would be helpful if state drought stages aligned better, at least generally, with nationally recognized drought stages. Connecticut could still have its own refinements with respect to criteria. 

Among these criteria for water conservation, we are concerned with the present emphasis on reservoir levels. Groundwater and well levels are equally important, especially in persuading the public of the need to conserve water. In the Plan and in the cover letter, the authors identify the need for more information on groundwater systems. 

There is some confusion in the reference to averages and percentiles to be used in determining drought conditions. Statistical drought triggers represent a large amount of data that can be compiled in many ways. For example, the Plan points to: "Precipitation Two months cumulative below 65% of average." For how much of the state? Counties? Watersheds? If on a particular day half the state is below 65% and half above, is that criteria met? Is that average measured by weather stations or radar data? Is it the average of all the weather stations' averages in the state or is there a certain number of them that have to have measured the 65% below their own stations' averages? Will these calculations be done for the two months previous to every Tuesday? Every day? First day of the month? And so forth. 

To repeat, the cover letter to the Plan refers to work that remains to be done and includes concerns raised by Rivers Alliance: These include

1. The authority of the Interagency Drought Workgroup is not clearly defined.

2. There is no established decision-making process for the Interagency Drought Workgroup.

3. There is a need for more data relevant to drought monitoring, especially on groundwater systems.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Dec 5, 2016

Bottling Plant a Wake-up Call on State Water

Excellent explanation of where we are in state water planning and policy. Thank you, Connecticut Mirror and Tom Condon.

The article uses the bottled water issue to lead into broader concerns with water across the whole state.

 Want to know more?
1. Try our webpage that summarizes water flow across the state.

2. "...members of the public rarely attend ... meetings, which tend to be dry and technical..." can be applied across the entire huge water planning process. The state publishes meeting information in different places, so we take information from their pages to create a master schedule of CT water planning meetings on our website 3. Save Our Water CT , a group in opposition to the bottling plant, is one of our 2016 Environmental Champions


River Alliance of CTT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

October 31, 2016

MDC Hiding Behind Security Claim
Letter to Editor, Hartford Courant

Thanks to Jon Lender and The Courant for the Oct. 29 article about the unusual move by the Metropolitan District Commission to sequester its entire water supply plan under the secrecy provisions of the Department of Homeland Security (MDC Uses Federal Anti-Terrorism Measure To Block Release Of Document To Critic). Even more surprising was the assertion by MDC attorney Chris Stone that this maneuver had nothing to do with the FOI request received by the MDC two days before it requested a Homeland Security exemption from disclosure. Mr. Stone was quoted as saying that MDC's only motive was "to keep information from those who would harm our water supply system." I suppose this may be true in the sense that MDC regards all its critics, including customers and state water planners, as bent on doing it harm. But as for needing blanket secrecy, the MDC has repeatedly publicized the bulk of the material it now claims cannot be shown to the public. This maneuver may stall state water planning and foil transparency rules, but it does nothing for public safety. We can only hope that the MDC is making real provisions for security and not relying on dramatic and transparent gestures.

Margaret Miner, Litchfield. Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Oct 26, 2016

Rieger Comments on WUCC Assessments

Dear Mr. Radka, Mr. Halloran and Mr. Avery,

Aquarion Water Company provides the public water supply to Simsbury except for in the village of Tariffville. Aquarion believes it is currently meeting the demand for service in Simsbury, but says that additional supply may be needed "beyond the 5-year planning period to meet the projected peak day demands with a sufficient margin of safety." Mr. James Rabbitt, the Simsbury Town Planner, announced at a meeting of the Simsbury Board of Selectmen in the spring of 2016 that over 800 new residential units are either being built or are permitted in Simsbury.

Given the residential growth in Simsbury, it is clear that the demand for water will increase. Aquarion says it would look to renovating existing wells and to the Farmington River Basin for sources of additional water. The company states that "Development of new sources in the Farmington River basin is believed to be the most likely scenario for increasing future supply." Avon Water Company also is looking to the Farmington River basin to increase its supply. And Tariffville Water Company also relies on an aquifer near the river.

Under the current circumstances, relying on the Farmington River basin for an increasing supply does not seem realistic. This year and last were both very dry years, and it is now recognized that we are in a serious drought in Connecticut. In Simsbury, the Farmington River is extremely low, lower than my family has ever seen it since we came to Simsbury in 1977. This summer the CT DEEP restricted fishing in the Farmington River because low flows and high temperatures had caused stressed fish to congregate in "refuges" created where certain tributaries enter the river.  Streams in the entire watershed, for example Stratton Brook in Simsbury, are low or even dry. Aquarion has had to ask for voluntary compliance with water use restrictions in Simsbury even without the projected additional residential units here.

I do not know whether the groundwater pumped from Aquarion's wells or from the wells of the two other local water companies comes from the same aquifers that feed the Farmington River, but given the wells' proximity to the river and to Stratton Brook, that seems likely. If it is the case, more pumping would affect the flow of the Farmington, just as UConn's well fields dried up the Fenton River. Drying up the river is a frightening possibility, first for wildlife and the river ecosystem, and second for the communities for which the river is important to the residents' quality of life and also as an economic driver. 

Of course, the amount of water in the East Branch of the Farmington River below the MDC's dams on the East Branch is already restricted by those dams and by the MDC's pattern of releases. The agreed-upon sale of water to Niagara Bottling plant in Bloomfield will only further tighten the supply of water that could be available to sustain the river and nearby aquifers. The Farmington River basin can only provide so much drinking water. We have no idea whether our future includes more frequent and severe droughts punctuated by occasional heavy rains or whether we will see a return to what we think of as our "normal" weather. If we want to have a river at all, we all, water companies and citizens, need to look elsewhere for water.

Sincerely,

Sally Rieger


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Oct. 18, 2016

Memo for WUCC Chairs and the Water Planning Council from Rivers Alliance

Please consider these comments.

Preliminary Water Supply Assessments

The preliminary assessment documents present reams of information that is now, clearly, in need of assessment. The numerous confusions and contradictions therein should be resolved before these documents are used as the basis of planning. The contradictions cry out for clarification. For example, it is usually impossible to tell whether listed interconnections are aspirational or under contract or somewhere in between; all too often it is not clear from where and to where a proposed interconnection is supposed to run, what quantities of water will be conveyed, and in what direction. As another example, almost all water companies report that, in six or more years, they may need more water than they are claiming in their five-year plans. How many of these statements are serious? Where is all that water supposed to come from? 

Interconnections to nowhere and hedging claims on most of the high-quality water in the state are problematic. WUCCs are supposed to assess problems, not just reveal them. See the statute. 

Sec. 25-33g. Assessment of water supply conditions and problems. Exclusive service area boundaries. (a) Each water utility coordinating committee, in consultation with the Commissioners of Public Health and Energy and Environmental Protection, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, shall develop a preliminary assessment of water supply conditions and problems within the public water supply management area. [Emphasis added.]

Providing a reliable assessment of conditions and problems is especially important at this time because apparently the state water planners are going to rely on WUCC data; but much significant data in the WUCC preliminary assessments is, at this point, patently unreliable. Moreover, even the good data is unverifiable because, contrary to the statute, the locations of sources need not be disclosed and are, in fact, not being disclosed. There is no way to do water supply planning without knowing the location and yield of existing and claimed sources. If the WUCCs honestly feel that disclosure of sources would pose a security risk, then the sources should be assessed under a code, such as: Western WUCC Source 1; in Watershed A; yield 3 mgd.; registered diversions in watershed A 4 mgd.; proposed interconnections out of Watershed A, 1 mgd. Just because a WUCC cannot name or give coordinates for sources, does not mean that it has no responsibility to assess the status of these sources vis a vis the extremely valuable ESAs that it will award. (Incidentally, it appears, year in and year out, that revealing locations and yields of sources is not seen as a true security risk, for it is done regularly by utilities in the public press and public presentations, starting with the Groton Drinking Water Quality Management Plan through to the detailed information publicized last week by Waterbury Water department, as it seeks to modify the flow-management plan that concluded the litigation of Waterbury vs Washington et al.

ESAs and Related Discussion in Central WUCC

The term exclusive service area (ESA) is used with different meanings during discussions of water policy. This was especially apparent in the meeting of the Central Corridor WUCC on September 20, 2016. The confusion begins with the definition is the statute: "An area where public water is supplied by one system (Sec. 25-33h)." This is a circular definition. Under this definition, hundreds of exclusive service areas existed before the WUCC law and would continue if the law were to be voided. Wherever a public water system is serving customers, there is, by definition, an exclusive service area. 

The confusion was apparent in in the Central WUCC discussion when one manager of a small water system said that she had no ESA. This was a logical reaction to WUCC exposition of the lengthy process proposed for acquiring an ESA. She knew she had not been through any such process. Yet she had an ESA. Such de facto ESAs are recognized under WUCC rules as true ESAs. 

The WUCC statute, however, refers to "establishing" exclusive service areas through specified (not always clear) WUCC processes. Why would they need to be established if they already exist? One clue may lie in that sometimes exclusive service areas formally recognized by WUCCs and DPH are distinguished from de facto exclusive service areas by use of capitalization; thus, Exclusive Service Areas (ESAs) appear to be ESAs established under the WUCC statute. This distinction via capitalization appears, for example in MMI's Frequently Asked Questions memo on exclusive service areas (September 20, 2016). However, there is no such distinction in the statute.   

Discussions of "exclusive service areas" often bog down because people use the term in different ways. Sometimes the reference is to de facto service areas predating the WUCC statute. Sometimes the reference is to service areas developed post-WUCC law (1985) but with no WUCC involvement. Sometimes the reference is to claimed service areas that extend well beyond existing service areas. Sometimes the reference is to areas where there are no public water systems at all but where ESAs might be established in the future. 

On the basis of the statutory definition, it would seem impossible for there to be exclusive service areas where there are no service areas. But DPH calls these empty spaces "future" exclusive service areas yet to be assigned. The entire state is blanketed with either existing or future exclusive service areas; the future exclusive service areas will fall under WUCC authority. (The regulations are slightly different than the statute on this point. Regulations say that there shall be no unserviced "islands" unless it can be "demonstrated" that these islands do not now need, and will never in the future need, public water. )      

A second problem with the statutory definition of "exclusive service area" is that the term "area" does not mean a continuous, unbroken area within a set of lines. An exclusive service area, say, in a municipality, may have within it smaller, different exclusive service areas. These have been called "doughnut holes" and (if they seem insignificant) "pinpricks." But these nested exclusive service areas are not like doughnut holes or pinpricks because they are not empty space; they are other exclusive service areas. Possibly, there are instances of triple nesting exclusive service areas; there is nothing in the statute or regulation to prohibit it.  

The process for altering boundaries of formally or semiformally recognized exclusive service areas is ambiguous in statute and not clarified in regulation. Usually, DPH and WUCCs have claimed that the best method is for utilities to get together privately and redraw boundaries. This new allocation of sources and customers would need some level of approval by WUCCs or their chairmen, and an OK from DPH. Rivers Alliance has already submitted to you the ambiguous statutory language relating to redrawing ESA boundaries subsequent to their approval by DPH. We have asked for your interpretation of this language. 

In the MMI memo and elsewhere, WUCC powers and responsibilities linked to exclusive service areas are claimed to be extensive but they are also unclear and apparently unenforceable. Recently, WUCC chairmen were surprised when DPH resurrected a long dormant passage in the law that requires anyone starting up a venture that requires a permit for public water to get WUCC approval. The law says that this requirement kicks in as soon as a WUCC has been convened (even if there is no approved WUCC water-supply plan or even a draft plan); the law seems never to have been invoked during many years post-1990, when some WUCCs had been convened but met only rarely. 

At any rate, under this authority given to convened WUCCs, new restaurants, condominiums, village centers, commercial subdivisions, public and private schools, and so forth, need WUCC approval for water supply. In return for this privilege, holders of exclusive service areas are supposed to be responsible for supplying water wherever it is needed in its exclusive service area. However, current discussions and DPH actions in recent years indicate that these responsibilities may be impossible to enforce. 

Margaret Miner, Executive Director, October 18, 2016


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning >

Dec 16, 2016

Draft Updated Drought Plan Public Comments Due Dec 16, 2016

Dkt. No. 16-10-12

Click here to open the Draft Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan 2016 in a new tab.

Persons interested in this matter can file written comments no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2016.

Documents must be filed with the Executive Secretary of the Authority in both electronic and paper form.

The date and time of filing shall be the date and time the Authority first receives a complete electronic version or the paper version and the required number of paper copies. Unless otherwise specified, filings are due by 4 p.m. on or before any required date.

If a complete electronic version of the filing is submitted through the Authority's Web Filing System at http://www.ct.gov/pura/cwp/view.asp?q=404110, only one paper version of the filing is generally required.

Should you experience problems attempting to file comments through the Authority's Web Filing System, please contact their Help Desk at DEEP.Helpdesk@ct.gov or by calling 860-424-3882.

If a complete electronic version of the filing is not web filed, submit an original and one copy.

Here is PURA's link to the draft report; click on  "CT Drought Plan - 16-10-12.pdf" when you get there: http://www.dpuc.state.ct.us/dockcurr.nsf/8e6fc37a54110e3e852576190052b64d/e4f2ff5f748b44018525804a0064b45f?OpenDocument.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Oct 25-26-27, 2016

Water Planning Public Meetings and White Papers

Come share your voice in the early stages of developing Connecticut's State Water Plan at any one of three public meetings on October 25, 26, or 27.

These public meetings will provide a forum to learn about the CT Water Plan processes, the goals of the plan, and future water management strategies that will be evaluated. They will also provide the public with opportunities to engage in dialogue with state officials and project consultants, ask questions, and discuss issues.

The first three meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

Tuesday, October 25: 6 - 8 PM Southeastern CT Council of Governments, 5 Connecticut Avenue, Norwich, CT.

Wednesday, October 26: 1 - 3 PM Hearing Room 1 at PURA, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT.

Thursday, October 27: 6 - 8 PM Room 205 of the Southbury Town Hall, 501 Main Street South, Southbury, CT.

At these meetings and/or in response to the white papers, all members of the public are the experts on their own watersheds, and many of you have important ideas on what should be in a statewide plan for aquatic health as well as water supply. The paper on challenges, conflicts, and opportunities is not yet released, so do offer your own thoughts.

Below are links to CDM Smith's White Papers with their descriptions of the papers.

White Paper 1B1: Current Water Resource Management Structure REV 1 Oct 2016 This document is a summary of current water resource management structure topics, and will be incorporated into the State Water Plan (draft and final reports). This white paper describes the existing management structure at the state, regional, and local levels (including roles and responsibilities of agencies and committees), and identifies significant components of the decision-making process.
White Paper 1B2: Conservation and Economic Development REV 1 Oct 2016 This paper outlines land management, and summarizes land conservation plans and economic development patterns, trends, or plans as available by region. While it draws upon localized examples, this is a general examination of trends and practices at the regional level.
White Paper 1B3: Water Management Options REV 1 Oct 2016 This paper outlines the broad strategies that may be used to address Connecticut's water supply needs. These strategies are comprised of different methods or "options" that can be implemented independently or in combination with other options. The options can be grouped into demand management and supply management alternatives.
White Paper 1B4: Future Water Management Challenges (Not yet available) This paper will identify and discuss perceived conflicts and challenges identified during the preparation of the planning process through collaboration with the WPC Steering Committee.
Task 1B Comments and Responses Tracking Log 10-18-2016 This document is a record of comments received so far by the consulting firm regarding the white papers and responses to those those comments. It includes the reviewer's name, page reference, section numbers, paragraph title, the comment, the response, and resolution detail, as applicable.

There will be three additional public meetings in the next phase of the project, during the winter and spring of 2017.

For more information go to the website for the Water Planning Council (WPC). It has a calendar of meetings of the WPC and its committees.

The CT Department of Public Health (DPH) posts information about the Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs) that are also planning the use of the state's waters.

Rivers Alliance maintains a combined schedule of meetings on our website.

Call or email Rivers Alliance if you have questions: 860-361-9349 or rivers@riversalliance.org


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

Sep 21, 2016

Comments Requested on Preliminary Water Supply Assessments

The three Connecticut Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs) have each prepared a Preliminary Water Supply Assessment (Preliminary Assessment) for each Connecticut Public Water Supply Management Area (PWSMA). They are  requesting review and comment on the Preliminary Assessment from all interested persons. Paper copies of each document are available in each region and at Rivers Alliance's office in Litchfield. Discussion of comments received to date will be discussed at the next WUCC meeting. Links to each WUCC's webpage, and each Preliminary Assessment are below along with the release date, the next meeting date at which they will discuss comments received so far, the date that comments are due, and the contact for sending comments.

WUCC
Link
Preliminary Assessment Released Next Meeting Comments due Send comments to
Western http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/drinking_water/
pdf/western_wucc_preliminary_wsa.pdf
Sep 13 Oct 11 Oct 14 russellposthauer@ccaengineering.com
 DLawrence@aquarionwater.com
DBanker@themdc.com
Central http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/drinking_water/
pdf/central_wucc_preliminary_wsa.pdf
Sep 22  Oct 25 Oct 24 DRadka@ctwater.com
bhalloran@themdc.com
bavery@hazardvillewater.com
Eastern http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/drinking_water/
pdf/eastern_wucc_preliminary_wsa.pdf
Sep 14 Oct 12 Oct 27 congdon@preston-ct.org
 MarkDecker@npumail.com
 Patrick.bernardo@suez-na.com
 Samuel.alexander@neccog.org

A Frequently Asked Questions page by the consultant is at http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/drinking_water/pdf/esa_-_frequently_asked_questions.pdf

Contact Rivers Alliance for assistance in assessing the Assessments.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

June 20, 2016

Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs)
Update on the First Week

Starting June 14, three WUCCs hit the ground running. They are striving to write regional water supply plans to cover the entire state within one year. Each person in the state, even someone living on an undeveloped mountaintop, will be assigned to an exclusive service area (ESA). An ESA is an area served by just one water company. Legally and under WUCC law, the needs asserted by water companies for water in pipes usually trump the needs of fish and turtles for a place to live.

To follow these regional water plans, watch the Department of Public Health (DPH) website for regular postings. http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?q=387352 

To get notices of meetings and to voice your views, sign up with DPH at dphwucc@ct.gov. Also sign up with your WUCC. Each WUCC secretary is supposed to receive and distribute public comment. There are three WUCCs, each of which spans the state north to south.

The Western WUCC secretary is David Banker of the Metropolitan District Commission. Email dbanker@themdc.com.

The Central Corridor WUCC secretary is Brendan Avery of Hazardville Water Company, Bavery@HazardvilleWater.com.

The Eastern WUCC secretary is Sam Alexander with the Northeastern Council of Governments (which is this WUCC's planning arm), samuel.alexander@neccog.org.

Meet the chairs of the three WUCCs. In the new bylaws, these seven men are personally responsible for developing the regional water supply plans for the state. So, if you know one, say hello or ask a question, or make a request.

The Western WUCC co-chairs are Daniel Lawrence, Aquarion Water Company, and Russell Posthauer, Candlewood Springs Property Owners Association.

The Central Corridor WUCC co-chairs are Bart Halloran, Metropolitan District Commission, and David Radka of the Connecticut Water Company.

The Eastern WUCC tri-chairs are Robert Congdon, Preston First Selectman; Mark Decker, Norwich Public Utilities; and a representative of SUEZ/Putnam WPCA.



Why WUCCs Need Your Help
A Rapid Review Of Developments From 1985 To June 2016

On June 14, WUUCs didn't just hit the ground running, they hit it racing. Under CT statutes, WUCCs have had the mandate to do regional water planning for over 30 years (since 1985). Over that time, they got one-seventh of the state done and got a start on another three-sevenths. They rarely met.

CT WUCC Timeline. Click for a larger version in a new tabBut interest in the WUCCs caught fire in 2014, when the state passed into law Public Act 14-163, requiring the Water Planning Council to create a comprehensive state water plan for water supply, the environment, and other societal benefits. By the end of 2015, the water utilities had decided that they needed to finish their plans not later than the deadline for completion of the state comprehensive plan (July 2017). This self-imposed deadline is now a reason for cutting back on the number of people involved in the work and the opportunities for public comment. The public comment time slot in the agendas for the first WUCC meetings was 10 minutes (although the meeting managers were somewhat flexible). Plans for going forward seem to include a fair amount of business to be done in small groups. There isn't time for involvement by a lot of people. Click on the timeline to the right for a larger version in a new tab.

In their first meetings, it took each WUCC just two hours to adopt bylaws and elect the chairs, who (according to the bylaws) will be individually responsible for producing the regional plans.

WUCCs are groups of water companies. Each of the approximately 2,000+ water companies in the state is a member of one of three WUCCs: Western, Central, or Eastern. WUCCs are supposed to assess water resources in their regions, develop supply plans, and, apparently especially important, fully partition their regions into exclusive service areas (ESAs). This exercise might be a great service to the state if were to be done as a professional-association endeavor to come up with recommendations to the Water Planning Council for prudent water supply planning. But the plans made by WUCCs, if approved by the Department of Health, become the law. Can the state water plan alter ESAs? Unclear, but evidently not.

Each WUCC has many hundreds of members, but there is no member representing rate payers or the general public, with the possible exception that each of the seven state Council of Governments is allowed one member. There is no member representing the state's environmental and ecological resources. There is no representative for health concerns.

Thus, the WUCCs are essentially cartels. They are also one of the very few state organizations that will provide no opportunity for participation by telephone or Internet, either by their own members or the public.

So that is why we are urging all water advocates around the state to do their best to make their voices heard.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

June 7, 2016

Water Company Meetings to Allocate Customers and Supply Statewide

Process Overlaps State Comprehensive Water Planning. Relationship Unclear. Secrecy an Issue.

When Connecticut committed to doing statewide water planning for all its water resources in 2014, water utilities and the Department of Public Health (DPH) rapidly revived the semi-dormant WUCC program for allocating water supply and water customers. WUCC stands for "water utility coordinating committee." The WUCC program began in 1985, with deadlines starting in 1986. The mandate was to develop seven WUCC regional water supply plans, to be combined into a WUCC statewide plan. All customers and locales were to be apportioned into exclusive service areas (ESAs). By 2014, only one plan had been approved. Three had never been started. To expedite the process, DPH reduced the seven regions to three, and, at the urging of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), committed to completing the water supply regional plans and the statewide supply plan in one year -- from June 2016 to July 2017 (not coincidentally, the deadline for completing the state comprehensive water plan). Since 2014, WUCC plans are also required by statute to account for environmental impacts (a monumental addendum).

WUCC kick-off meetings are scheduled for next week. Each region extends from the north to Long Island Sound, roughly aligning with the watersheds for the Housatonic River, the Connecticut River, and the Thames River. Please attend if you can. Rivers Alliance will also provide reports on request.

Meetings

Western WUCC. June 14. Brookfield Town Hall, 100 Pocono Road. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Click here for the Western WUCC Eligible Member List (pdf). Click here for the Western WUCC Map (pdf).

Central WUCC. June 15. Middletown City Hall, 24 deKoven Drive. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Click here for the Central Corridor WUCC Eligible Member List (pdf). Click here for the Central Corridor WUCC Map (pdf).

Eastern WUCC. June 17. SE CT Council of Govts., 5 Connecticut Ave., Norwich, 1 to 3 p.m. Click here for the Eastern WUCC Eligible Member List (pdf). Click here for the Eastern WUCC Map (pdf).

Only water companies are WUCC members. Environmental advocates, customer groups, etc. are not members. But DPH has pledged that the public will be able to speak.

Why You Should Care. If you want to have a say on the future of streams and wetlands in your town; if you want to have a say on whether your town should add public water-supply lines; if you want to have a say on groundwater pumping and groundwater quality; if you are interested in water, period -- raise your voice now!

Two High-level Concerns: Consistency and Secrecy. Consultants have just signed contracts to develop the WUCC supply plan and the state water plan. Milone & MacBroom is the consultant for WUCCs and is also on the team of the consultant for the state plan, CDM Smith. The relationship between the two processes is unclear. For example, will the consultants be working with the same data? Will they have the same planning goals for a region? Second, since 2003 and continuing through the 2016 legislative session, water utilities have fought hard and successfully to keep vital data away from the public. They have unique privileges and exemptions in the Freedom of Information (FOI) law. The rationale is security against enemy attacks, which is an important goal. But most of the secrecy appears off-target. For example, water utilities have just successfully argued that they need to keep secret the yields of well fields that have not yet been built and may never be built. So if state planners or citizens are interested in the quantity and quality of groundwater in areas claimed by water companies, they may be out of luck.

For questions or more information on how to participate in or follow the dual planning efforts, contact Rivers Alliance at rivers@riversalliance.org or 860-361-9349.

The DPH point person is Eric McPhee at 860-509-7333. The DPH webpage describing WUCCs is at http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?q=387352


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning

June 5, 2016

State Water Plan vs. State Water Supply Plan

There are two parallel water plans in the works for Connecticut. The Water Planning Council (WPC) is developing the comprehensive state water plan mandated by the legislature in 2014. The WPC consists of one member from each of the following agencies having responsibility for water: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP); Department of Public Health (DPH); Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), which is part of DEEP; and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), essentially the governor's agency in charge of the state budget and planning. 

The comprehensive water plan is required to take into account the needs of the environment and of water supply (water delivered via a pipe). The water supply plan is required to take into account needs related to supply, of course, and also environmental factors.

Development of the water supply plan is headed by DPH working through regional groups of water suppliers. These are Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs), whose members are water companies in the region and one representative from each Council of Governments in the regions. There are no membership slots for either watershed groups or customers. They may speak in public comment period.

The WUCC law is about 30 years old, and originally there were seven WUCC regions. Two years ago, DPH held public meetings on a proposal to shrink the number of WUCC regions to four; the result of the hearings was a new statewide WUCC configuration of three large regions. These roughly follow the three main river basins running north to south to Long Island Sound. The watersheds are the Housatonic, Connecticut, and Thames basins.

DPH has contracted with the consulting firm Milone & MacBroom to work with the three WUCCs to develop their regional plans and an umbrella state plan. The original schedule was one year per region, but, at the forceful recommendation of the Metropolitan District Commission (the Hartford region water utility), the schedule has been accelerated to require all WUCC regional plans to be completed on the same schedule as the comprehensive water plan, which is due to be finished in July 2017 and to be delivered to the legislature in January 2018.

The planning process is additionally complicated by the fact that all state and local plans are supposed to be consistent with OPM's plan of conservation and development.

The kick-off dates for the first meetings of the WUCCs are June 14, 15, and 17. The locations will in Brookfield, Middletown, Norwich. For more information check DPH's website: www.ct.gov/dph/WUCC.


River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > State Water Planning > Short Takes

Feb 17, 2016

State Water Planning In Short Takes

Beginning in 2014, under Public Act 14-163, the state embarked on comprehensive water planning. The responsible party is the Water Planning Council (the WPC), which is made up of representatives of the four agencies that deal most with water: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Department of Public Health (DPH), Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), and Office of Policy and Management (OPM).  PURA used to be the Department of Public Utility Control, but became part of DEEP in 2011 when energy was added to environment in the agency's mission under the direction of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty (2011).

The impetus for the creation of a statewide water plan in Public Act 14-163 came from the controversial proposal by the Hartford utility, the Metropolitan District Commission, to supply water from reservoirs in the Farmington River watershed across the state to UConn. This water transfer was opposed by many, and led to the question: Doesn't Connecticut have a plan for water allocation? The answer was, no.

In October 2014, the Water Planning Council approved a year-long contract (MOU) with UConn that assigned Vice President Tom Callahan to manage the first steps in creating a statewide water plan. UConn offered Mr. Callahan's services pro bono for two days per week. UConn is a major stakeholder in water-supply matters, which has the disadvantage of an appearance of conflict of interest and the advantage of expertise in water policy. In 2015, with the expiration of the MOU, Mr. Callahan resigned from UConn, and offered to continue to work on water planning as a volunteer. The Water Planning Council welcomed this offer, and Mr. Callahan has continued his service. 

By statute, the WPC must appoint and consult with a multi-stakeholder Advisory Group. Since 2001, this Advisory Group has worked on water research and recommendations for management. The group is typically chaired by one representative of water supply interests and one environmental advocate. At this time, the chairs come from Connecticut Water Company (Maureen Westbrook) and Rivers Alliance of Connecticut (Margaret Miner).

Early in 2015, the Water Planning Council created a Steering Committee specifically to work on the state water plan. The Steering Committee is also a multi-stakeholder committee, similar to the Advisory Group but with a broader range of expertise. The Steering Committee includes the Water Planning Council and representatives of the Advisory Group. Here are the members: Beth Barton, Day Pitney; John Betkoski, WPC Member, PURA; Larry Bingaman, South Central CT Regional Water Authority; Ellen Blaschinski, WPC Member, DPH; Chris Clark, Mohegan Tribe; Virginia de Lima USGS - scientist emerita; Samuel Gold, Lower CT River Valley COG; Bart Halloran, Metropolitan District Commission; Elin Katz, Office of Consumer Counsel; David LeVasseur, WPC Member, OPM; Gene Likens, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Andrew Lord, Lord Law LLC; Joe McGee, The Business Council of Fairfield County; Margaret Miner, Advisory Group Member, Rivers Alliance of CT; Robert Moore, Policy Workgroup Chair; Susan Stratton Sayre, Smith College, Economics; Michael Sullivan, WPC Member, DEEP; Maureen Westbrook, Advisory Group Member, Connecticut Water Company; Julie Zimmerman, Yale University, Environmental Engineering.

The Steering Committee has generated three important work groups that have provided information and recommendations relating to policy; water plans developed in other states; and science and technology. The Committee as a whole has not yet had the opportunity to take the lead on issues. 

The planning process is moving forward on a tight timeline and a tight budget. The governor and General Assembly have approved $500,000 per year for two years via bonding. Judging from budgets in other states, this will be about half the support needed to collect data, do the policy and planning, and go through the approval process. More concerning is the risk that next year's funding will be diminished as a result of the state's ongoing budget woes. 

The plan is supposed to be completed in 2017 for submittal to the General Assembly in January 2018. That leaves less than two years to complete a tremendous volume of work. To avoid the time-consuming state process for hiring contractors, the Water Planning Council signed an MOU with a regional political entity, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC -- pronounced Newypik) to act as a general contractor. NEIWPCC's point person on the project is Jane Ceraso, a specialist in water protection.  In February, NEIWPCC broadcast a request for qualifications. (To see the RFQ, click here.) One or more contractors and a scope of work should be approved before the "darling buds of May" appear. Or, we may learn that the scope of work and rate of pay is not adequate to attract capable experts. Then, adjustments will follow.

Simultaneously, water companies, represented in three regional Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs), are developing a statewide plan for water supply with oversight from the Department of Public Health. DPH's original concept was that the regional plans would be developed sequentially. However, the influential Hartford utility, the Metropolitan District Commission, insisted that the WUCC plans be finished by summer 2017 so that they could be taken into consideration in the statewide plan for all waters (as the law requires, actually). Rivers Alliance has repeatedly opposed this second planning track on the grounds that it will reduce conservation opportunities for natural streams, under an unstructured, exclusionary system of decision making and governance. (No customers, no environmental advocates, no members of the general public can be WUCC members.) 

In sum, at this time, substantial progress has been made toward comprehensive water planning for Connecticut. The Water Planning Council is committed to achieving a useful, prudent plan. The pitfalls are numerous. But it is reasonable to believe that this effort will bring at least some good results and possibly a good, comprehensive plan.  

To keep up to date on all water planning events and news, go to the excellent website created by OPM staffer Eric Lindquist for the Water Planning Council.  (Click here.)