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Stephanie C. Fox

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Water Warriors: How and Where to Find Our Politicians.

Save Our Water Button - Bloomfield Citizens.org

Save Our Water! This is the button being worn by the people who object to the plan for Niagara Bottling to draw 1.8 million gallons of water per day from our reservoirs. This plan would cause a factory to be built in Bloomfield, with just a few menial, hourly wage jobs for humans and the rest done by robots. This will not lead to economic benefit for the area, only looting of our water, to be driven elsewhere in huge, heavy trucks that will damage the roads.

Water Warriors of the 8 affected towns who are fighting an invasion by Niagara Bottling are asking some important questions:

What gives any one of these towns, all served by the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the reservoirs it oversees, the right to allow a water bottling corporation to suck up our natural security? That equates to speaking for the other towns, an unreasonable act, and an unethical one.

Of course, we’re not dealing with justice here. We’re dealing with laws.

Laws are cold, and like chess pieces, can be manipulated by either side.

The trick is to manipulate the pieces and win.

This reminds me of that scene in the movie Amistad, in which the abolitionists met with Attorney Roger Baldwin to see how he could help them to liberate the kidnappees on that ship. When Baldwin coldly discussed the legal question of whether or not the law regarded those people as property, the shock and outrage expressed by Mr. Tappan was, to me as a law student, amusing. Yes, were people, and yes, the moral aspects of the issue were a given, so obvious as to be not worthy of further discussion, yet the abolitionist clung to them as if they were relevant to the legal matter.

They were not.

This fight is about law.

It is about assembling a sufficient arsenal of laws to protect ourselves in times of drought, while insisting upon a realistic assumption that we shall have droughts, and at least every decade.

To not assume so would be the height of folly.

We must protect the access of private citizens to water at ALL times so that we may drink it, cook with it, wash ourselves with it, and grow food to eat in our own gardens with it.

Swimming pools, lawns, golf courses, and below all, water bottling plants must not be given priority.

Every summer, I grow tomatoes and nasturtiums in my garden. It reduces the grocery bill while producing food that tastes better than the plastic-engineered stuff that we buy all winter. It gives me control over the source and choices of fresh produce that I grow. It also gives me some exercise.

Purple Cherokee heirloom tomato, zucchini squash, and squash blossoms, all grown in my garden last summer (2015). (Photo by Stephanie C. Fox)

Purple Cherokee heirloom tomato, zucchini squash, and squash blossoms, all grown in my garden last summer (2015). (Photo by Stephanie C. Fox)

Nasturtiums in bloom in my garden last summer (2015), which were deliciously peppery and colorful on salads. (Photo by Stephanie C. Fox)

Laws are being debated in the Connecticut Legislative Assembly right now, starting in its Senate, to that end.

However…they deal ONLY with giving private water users/consumers priority of access, called “essential residential use” in the bill, SB No. 422.

Enforcement is not contemplated, nor is a deadline for implementation of it once enacted.

Why not? Persuasion of politicians to do anything is a slow, tedious process, worse than pulling teeth. This means that the most incremental of advancements must be accepted by the public in order to achieve any measure of progress. This is maddeningly slow, but there it is.

Bills can get watered down (yes, pun intended) on their way to enactment, so it is important to keep in touch with one’s politicians and make a regular fuss of objections to that along the way. Don’t yield so much as a comma, a phrase, or whatever else, or we will all regret it.

To get in touch with your senator one needs to know where and how to find them, complete with phone, e-mail, and legislative assistants.

This link provides all of that data:

Connecticut General Assembly – Senate Members

That page is not very detailed, but each Senator is hyperlinked and is listed in alphabetical order.

This link lists all of the Connecticut State Senate Democrats, and it does so prettily, with detailed contact data:

http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Senators.php

This link lists all of the Connecticut State Senate Republicans, showing what committees they are on. If you click on a name, it will show other data:

Senators

If you already know who your State Representative is in the Connecticut General Assembly, you can find that individual here:

Connecticut General Assembly – House of Representatives Members

If you do not know who represents you, you can enter your address here and the answer will be provided:

Connecticut General Assembly – Find Your Legislators

Once you have this data, write to them! Tell them what you want.

Lots of us constituents doing this has a far greater impact than just a few of us doing this does.

Don’t worry about whether or not you are the world’s most eloquent writer. Just do something!

Think about it this way: how will you feel later if you don’t do anything?

I would not feel good about that at all…especially if we lost the fight.

What follows next are copies, with links to the legislative sources, of the progress and details concerning Senate Bill No. 422, which is about denying discounts on water use and sewage discharge to ANY water bottling business.

Read it, and then write to your politicians!

State of Connecticut Seal in Black-and-White

General Assembly File No. 450
February Session, 2016 Substitute Senate Bill No. 422

Senate, April 4, 2016

The Committee on Planning and Development reported through SEN. OSTEN of the 19th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING RESIDENTIAL WATER RATES, PUBLIC DRINKING WATER SUPPLY EMERGENCIES AND SELLERS OF BOTTLED WATER.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) If the Commissioner of Public Health orders the implementation of water use restrictions during a public drinking water supply emergency declared pursuant to section 25-32b of the general statutes, said commissioner shall order that the sale of water to residential consumers for essential residential use be prioritized over the sale of water to commercial water bottling companies exporting water out of the state for the duration of such public drinking water supply emergency.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Notwithstanding any provisions of the general statutes or any charter or special act, no municipality or entity shall charge the holder of a license for the business of bottling water issued pursuant to section 21a-136 of the general statutes a water rate less than any other consumer for the sale of such water.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Notwithstanding any provisions of the general statutes or any charter or special act, no municipality or entity shall charge the holder of a license for the business of bottling water issued pursuant to section 21a-136 of the general statutes a clean water project charge rate less than the residential consumer clean water project charge rate charged by such municipality or entity.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
Section 1 from passage New section
Sec. 2 from passage New section
Sec. 3 from passage New section

 

PD Joint Favorable Subst.

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst’s professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities Effect FY 17 $ FY 18 $
Various Municipalities; Municipal Water Companies Revenue Gain/ Loss Potential Potential

Explanation

The bill prohibits municipalities and municipal water companies from charging bottled water companies less than any other consumers for certain services.

To the extent that municipalities and municipal water companies agree to a new rate, there is a revenue gain. The bill also precludes any revenue a municipality or municipal water company might receive from a bottled water company solely because services are being provided at a reduced rate.

The bill requires, during a public drinking water supply emergency, the Department of Public Health (DPH) to order that the sale of water to residential consumers for “essential residential use” be prioritized over the sale of water to commercial water bottling companies exporting water out of the state. As an implementation deadline is not provided, it is anticipated that the agency will update water safety planning regulations, and review updated coordinated water system plans, within available staff time without incurring a fiscal impact. It should be noted that enforcement of the order is not required under the bill.

There is no fiscal impact to the Department of Consumer Protection as a result of the bill as few actionable complaints are anticipated.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to prices charged to bottled water companies.

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 422

AN ACT CONCERNING RESIDENTIAL WATER RATES, PUBLIC DRINKING WATER SUPPLY EMERGENCIES AND SELLERS OF BOTTLED WATER.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioner, when implementing water use restrictions during a public drinking water supply emergency, to require that water sales to residential customers for essential residential use be given priority over sales to commercial water bottling companies exporting water out of the state during the emergency. Existing law gives the DPH commissioner broad authority to mandate water use restrictions during such an emergency.

The bill also bars municipalities and entities (presumably public and private water companies) from charging licensed water bottlers a (1) water rate less than that charged to other consumers or (2) clean water project charge rate less than the charge to residential consumers. The bill’s rate restrictions supersede any statute, charter, or special act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BACKGROUND

Public Drinking Water Supply Emergency

Existing law authorizes the DPH commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, to declare a public drinking water supply emergency when he receives information that one exists, is imminent, or is reasonably expected to occur without immediately implementing conservation practices. During such an emergency, the DPH commissioner may allow or order the (1) implementation of water conservation practices, including restrictions on a public water system’s or municipality’s water use; (2) sale, supply, or taking of waters; and (3) temporary interconnection of water mains to sell or transfer water between water companies (CGS § 25-32b).

Clean Water Project Charge

The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) levies this charge to repay debt associated with its Clean Water Project, a $2.1 billion project mandated by state and federal environmental officials to reduce sewage overflow into the Connecticut River. The charge is based on metered water consumption and is charged to MDC customers who receive both water and sewer services.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea 15 Nay 5 (03/18/2016)

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/FC/2016SB-00422-R000450-FC.htm

 

OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS

Legislative Office Building, Room 5200

Hartford, CT 06106 ↓ (860) 240-0200

http://www.cga.ct.gov/ofa

sSB-422

AN ACT CONCERNING RESIDENTIAL WATER RATES, PUBLIC DRINKING WATER SUPPLY EMERGENCIES AND SELLERS OF BOTTLED WATER.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities Effect FY 17 $ FY 18 $
Various Municipalities; Municipal Water Companies Revenue Gain/ Loss Potential Potential

Explanation

The bill prohibits municipalities and municipal water companies from charging bottled water companies less than any other consumers for certain services.

To the extent that municipalities and municipal water companies agree to a new rate, there is a revenue gain. The bill also precludes any revenue a municipality or municipal water company might receive from a bottled water company solely because services are being provided at a reduced rate.

The bill requires, during a public drinking water supply emergency, the Department of Public Health (DPH) to order that the sale of water to residential consumers for “essential residential use” be prioritized over the sale of water to commercial water bottling companies exporting water out of the state. As an implementation deadline is not provided, it is anticipated that the agency will update water safety planning regulations, and review updated coordinated water system plans, within available staff time without incurring a fiscal impact. It should be noted that enforcement of the order is not required under the bill.

There is no fiscal impact to the Department of Consumer Protection as a result of the bill as few actionable complaints are anticipated.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to prices charged to bottled water companies.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/FN/2016SB-00422-R000450-FN.htm

 

PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

VOTE TALLY SHEET

Bill No.: SB-422 Amendment Letter:

 

AN ACT CONCERNING RESIDENTIAL WATER RATES, PUBLIC DRINKING WATER SUPPLY EMERGENCIES AND SELLERS OF BOTTLED WATER.

 

Chair: OSTEN, C Motion: SANTIAGO, E Second: HAMPTON, J

 

Action: Joint Favorable Substitute

 

Language Change:

 

TOTALS Voting Yea Nay Abstain Absent and Not Voting Voice Vote
20 15 5 0 2

 

Sen. Osten, C. S19 X
Rep. Miller, P. 036 X
Sen. Cassano, S. S04 X
Rep. D’Agostino, M. 091 X
Rep. Aman, W. 014 X
Sen. Linares, A. S33 X
Rep. Belsito, S. 053 X
Rep. Conroy, T. 105 X
Rep. Dubitsky, D. 047 X
Sen. Fasano, L. S34 X
Rep. France, M. 042 X
Rep. Fritz, M. 090 X
Sen. Fonfara, J. S01 X
Rep. Fox, D. 148 X
Rep. Hampton, J. 016 X
Rep. Reed, L. 102 X
Rep. Ritter, M. 001 X
Rep. Rojas, J. 009 X
Rep. Santiago, E. 130 X
Rep. Simanski, B. 062 X
Rep. Srinivasan, P. 031 X
Rep. Zawistowski, T. 061 X

 

Vote date: 3/18/2016 10:00:00 AM Correction date:

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/TS/s/2016SB-00422-R00PD-CV22-TS.htm

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