Clean water is a fundamental right and necessity. Unfortunately, it is too often under attack by big polluters, special interests, and deregulation.
At CTLCV, we firmly believe that water is a public trust. Everyone has a say in how we use it, and we must take care to balance the needs of public health, environmental protection, our drinking supply, and economic development.
CTLCV has helped lead the charge for the State Water Plan, and has fought against projects that would destroy watersheds like the Tilcon strip mining proposal in New Britain.
WATER IN CONNECTICUT
THE STATE WATER PLAN
The comprehensive State Water Plan, mandated by the legislature in 2016, was developed by the Water Planning Council (WPC) through an intensive, rigorous two-year public process. Its purpose was to balance the needs of our public water supply for economic development, recreation, and ecological health.
The Plan was delivered to the legislature for approval in 2018. An unusual, multi-committee public hearing process began. Despite great interest and many comments from the public, the legislature failed to call the Plan for a vote. It was blocked by a loose coalition of utilities and special interests. Despite an extraordinary effort by Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and other legislative champions, opponents to the Plan succeeded in keeping it from the General Assembly floor.
The utilities and special interests objected to language at the heart of the Plan: that water is a public trust.
Water has been regarded as a public trust resource since 1971 under the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act. The public requested this fact be acknowledged under the Plan, and the language was unanimously approved by the WPC. Unfortunately, utilities like Eversource objected and raised arguments about whether this required water companies to protect natural streams and headwaters.
On June 13, 2018, Governor Daniel P. Malloy issued an Executive Order directing the WPC to move forward with the Plan as written and deliver it to the legislature without change or deletion in 2019. The State Water Plan passed in 2019 through an unusual process - it did not go through any committees but instead required an emergency certification to be brought directly to the House floor and then the Senate.
In a compromise with water utility companies, the legislature and advocates agreed not to challenge an amendment proposed on a different bill regarding public drinking water (HB 7194). That amendment stated that "in the event of conflicts between any provision of the State Water Plan and any provision of the general statutes, the provision of the general statues shall control". According to the best legal advise, this language did no harm.
Our water can be threatened by deregulation, contaminants, or projects that disrupt our watersheds. Whenever threats to our clean water emerge, CTLCV mobilizes our members to call on lawmakers and other leaders to put a stop to these harmful proposals.
Most recently, CTLCV helped lead the charge against Tilcon's strip mining proposalfor a New Britain-owned watershed. More than a decade ago, Tilcon and New Britain attempted to skirt regulations and laws put in place to stop the destruction of its critical watershed. CTLCV noticed the unprecedented exemption in a piece of unrelated legislation and spoke out, leading to increased public scrutiny and the eventual shelving of the proposal.
Tilcon returned with a vengeance in recent years. Their proposal would have blasted vegetation and destroyed a valuable natural resource--despite precedents that should have prevented a watershed from being used in such a way. Thankfully, after the work of CTLCV and our partners--the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, Protect Our Watersheds Connecticut, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and the people of New Britain--we presented hours of testimony, facts, and research that ultimately led Mayor Erin Stewart to withdraw New Britain from the Tilcon plan.
As CTLCV becomes aware of threats like Tilcon's strip mining operation, we issue Action Alerts to our members. Sign up today to stay up to date on the latest in the fight for clean water!