Connecticut Residents, Advocacy Groups Voice Concerns Over Deal With Niagara

Friday, March 11, 2016

MDC and the Town Of Bloomfield To Privatize And Sell Water; Advocates  Urge CT General Assembly to Support State New Legislation To Protect Water

(Hartford, CT) -- Residents from Bloomfield, West Hartford, Windsor, and other Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) towns and numerous environmental advocacy groups joined Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) and other lawmakers to express concern about a deal between the town of Bloomfield and Niagara water bottling company that will allow up to 1.8 million gallons per day to be withdrawn from the Farmington River watershed - a water source controlled by the MDC that provides drinking water to 12 towns.  

They spoke in support of Senate Bill 422, “An Act Concerning Residential Water Rates, Public Drinking Water Supply Emergencies and Sellers of Bottled Water,” which seeks to prioritize residential consumer water sales during public drinking water supply emergencies, prohibit companies that sell bottled water from receiving water rates less that residential customers, and ensure that sellers who export bottled water out of Connecticut do not pay lower sewer rates than residential customers.

The bill was slated to receive its public hearing this morning.

“A company selling bottled water out of state shouldn’t be paying less for that water than the local residents who are paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the infrastructure improvements to deliver that water and dispose of its waste,” said Senator Bye, who was an early opponent of the Niagara-Bloomfield deal and who authored SB 422. “We also need drought protections in state statutes to ensure that our limited, natural resources are available for families to use in time of emergency, and are not simply there for corporations to make a profit off.”

"We are deeply concerned about how water is managed by the MDC and any attempts in the state to sell Connecticut's water,” said Anne Hulick, the state director of Clean Water Action. “As we deal with a changing climate, it is increasingly important to treat our water as the precious resource it is, to conserve it and keep it available for the people of Connecticut now and in the future. Clean Water Action stands with the residents and will work hard to support SB 422."

"The only way to protect Connecticut's public water is for the state legislature to intervene and set clear guidelines," stated Brad Klein, Bloomfield resident.  As a long-time resident, I was shocked to learn the news of this deal and dismayed at the utter lack of transparency," Klein added.

"The fiasco of Niagara Bottling's secretive, sweetheart deals with the MDC and the Bloomfield Town Council makes painfully clear the need for strong state oversight of the MDC, citizen control of our public water,   and protection of residents’ access to water in case of drought.   This bill is a good start for better management of a precious natural resource" said Bloomfield resident Donna Landerman.

The legislature’s Planning and Development Committee will hold a public hearing on several bills, including SB 422, An Act Concerning Residential Water Rates, Public Drinking Water Supply Emergencies and Sellers of Bottled Water, today beginning at 11 am in Room 2A of the Legislative Office Building.

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Susan Eastwood