The CT Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) (then DEP) proposed in 2009 and 2010 to regulate the flow of water in the state's rivers and streams to protect the state's fish populations.
HBRACT opposed DEEP's proposed new stream flow regulations as an unnecessary overreaction to address a minor stream flow issue affecting less than 1% of the state's fisheries. These DEEP regulations are not about protecting water supplies or water quality for people. They're about controlling water use by people to protect fisheries and other aquatic life - an important goal for sure, but DEEP's proposal to regulate the entire state, over 5,000 miles of streams and rivers (and groundwater in its original proposal) in order to address less than 1% of impacted streams obliterates any sense of balance we need in our environmental laws.
HBRACT joined with the CT Water Works Association, municipalities, business associations and many other organizations opposing these regulations as they will raise everyone's cost of water and severely limit economic and housing development across the state. See HBACT's testimony (1-18-2010).
Background on the proposed regulations: On October 26, 2010, the legislature's Regulations Review Committee unanimously rejected DEEP's proposed regulations without prejudice, requesting the agency to go back and limit the scope of the regulations. DEEP then rewrote the regulations to resubmit to Regulations Review for its Dec. 21, 2010, meeting. Unfortunately, while groundwater was removed and other positive changes made, a report by the coalition opposing these regulations stated, DEEP did "not go far enough in addressing the significant concerns raised by lawmakers during the meeting, including: 1) the impact on water supplies needed for public health, safety, agriculture and economic development; 2) the burden associated with compliance for agriculture and business; 3) the unfunded mandate on Connecticut's towns and cities; ... 5) the need to provide meaningful exemptions, including exemptions for agriculture, economic hardship and public water supplies needed to meet public health and safety obligations; and 6) concerns regarding the cost of implementation given the state's limited resources. In addition, committee members directed DEEP to have 'additional sitdowns' with stakeholders to address these concerns." Listen to the Oct. 26, 2010, Regs Review Hearing, rejecting DEEP's stream flow regulations: click here on this mp3 file(8MB). On December 21, 2010, the Regulations Review Committee again rejected the revised proposal on a 10-2 vote. Read the Legislature's OLR Report, Stream Flow Regulations and Impact on Industry (Office of Legislative Research, Oct. 25, 2010).
We hoped DEEP under the new Governor's administration would rethink the balance this state needs and focuses any regulations on just those streams and rivers that are directly and adversely impacted by low water flows.
In 2011, DEEP rewrote the stream flow regulations and resubmitted them to the legislature's Regulations Review Committee. The LCO report on the rewritten regs recommended rejection again, but for much less substantive issues than the previous year. See LCO's 8 pg report with recommendations (10-25-11); see also the redlined final draft of the proposed regulations (Oct 2011). Final approval was granted by Regs Review on Nov. 29, 2011:
"The legislature's Regulations Review Committee unanimously approved, with certain technical corrections, the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection's (DEEP) proposed stream flow regulations. The approved regulations must now be filed with the Secretary of State's Office and will be effective upon publication in the CT Law Journal.
The Connecticut Water Works Association (CWWA) participated in extensive negotiations with DEEP, the state Department of Public Health, CBIA and representatives of various environmental and watershed organizations to address concerns with DEEP’s proposed stream flow regulations.
The negotiations were successful in addressing CWWA's top priorities, including (1) significant protections for water systems' safe yield; (2) greater certainty for water companies in how rivers and streams may be classified by DEEP; (3) more flexible compliance options, longer compliance periods and common sense exemptions; and (4) reduced paperwork and reporting requirements - all of which will mitigate capital costs and operating expenses associated with compliance. The regulations therefore strike a more appropriate balance between protecting the state's aquatic life and ensuring adequate public water supplies to meet the public health, safety, agricultural and economic development needs of the state.
CWWA sincerely appreciates the time that lawmakers and public officials took to understand our concerns and support our efforts to revise the regulations to protect the state’s public water supplies.
CWWA also thanks the members of the coalition [including the HBRA of CT] who voiced their concerns regarding the impact of the regulations on their industry or constituency. Your efforts helped ensure a positive outcome on this issue" Elizabeth (Betsy) Gara, Gara & Markowski, LLC.
Check with your land use or environmental counsel for any updates to laws and regulations.