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Rep. Hampton Proposes Moratorium on Water Diversions

Simsbury's representative cites lack of planning, environmental impact, and economic factors as reasons for the bill.

Following a controversial proposed pipeline that would divert water from the Farmington River basin to supply the town of Mansfield and the University of Connecticut with needed water, a new bill in the Conn. General Assembly aims to suspend such projects until a state plan is developed.

Rep. John Hampton (D—16th Dist.) has proposed a moratorium on all water diversion projects in the state until the proper planning is in place.

House Bill 5478:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A STATE-WIDE MORATORIUM FOR WATER DIVERSIONS AND REQUIRING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A STATE-WIDE WATER USE PLAN.

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

That the general statutes be amended to establish a state-wide moratorium on water diversions until a state-wide water use plan is developed and implemented.

Statement of Purpose:

To responsibly authorize water diversions in accordance with a state-wide water use plan.

"I firmly believe that we need to stop, look, and listen," Hampton said.

Hampton feels that a proposal by the Metropolitan District Commission to divert approximately 2 million gallons of water daily from the Farmington River basin could set a dangerous precedent for the environment and the state's economy.

"It's not smart environmental policy and it's not smart economically," Hampton said.

The bill already has support from Sen. Kevin Witkos (R—8th Dist.). Witkos has been a strong voice against the MDC proposal.

Before the bill makes it to the General Assembly for a vote it will first need support from the house environmental committee, Hampton said.

So far, Hampton has received strong support for the bill from his constituency but a water diversion moratorium isn't popular with everyone.

"I've spoken to UConn and I'm certainly sympathetic to their needs," Hampton said. "They'd like to see the bill not move through because their need is dire."

For Hampton, need is not an excuse to forego planning and disregard the long-term and short-term environmental impacts that water diversions bring.

"It's not just my concern about the Farmington River," Hampton said. "This is about all communities. Someday this could happen to UCONN but will they be in a position to help another community?"

UCONN officials say Hampton's bill is unnecessary and that state, regional, and independent councils to regulate water supply planning are already in place.

"What Rep. Hampton is trying to get at already exists," Jason Coite, environmental compliance analyst for UCONN, said.

"Independent water supply systems like UCONN come up with their own plans," Coite said. Those plans are developed under the guidance of the regional districts of the Water Utility Coordinating Committees, of which there are seven regions in the state.

The state committee was formed in 1985 to "maximize efficient and effective development of the state’s public water supply systems and to promote public health, safety and welfare," according to the Department of Public Health website.

Coite also referenced the state Water Planning Council as a resource when it comes to statewide water planning.

The council has four members from three different state agencies— the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP); the Department of Public Health (DPH); and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), according to the DEEP website.

The purpose of the council is to "identify issues and strategies which bridge the gap between the water supply planning process and water resources management in order that water can be appropriately allocated to balance competing needs while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of Connecticut and minimizing adverse economic and environmental effects," according to the WPC website.

Coite said the university feels that Hampton's bill will only prolong a process that already has the same requirements that he is trying to implement, and suggested that a lack of funding was the issue for the existing planning resources.

In the case of UCONN, time is extremely important.

"Even if we had our plan in place, it's still 3-5 years before we could implement it. To bridge those 3-5 years we have ample water supply, but beyond that it's a problem," Coite said.

"UCONN might not be the only institution affected by this bill," Coite said. "It could have some far-reaching affects on other communities."

The deadline for public comment on the the MDC proposal is Thursday Jan. 31.

UCONN has already posted public comments and letters they have reviewed regarding the proposal.

For more information about the MDC proposal, visit our MDC topic page.

David Moelling January 31, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Moratoriums are the true sign of a Lazy politician. THey don't want to take the heat of any unpopular decision but they know that the proposal has either technical or legal grounding or both. 99% of the time they are concerned with a single proposal and no additional information or action is taken within the time of the moratorium. Yep Mr. Hampton shows the same firmness we had in his time as a Selectman
Steve January 31, 2013 at 01:35 PM
I would be interested in what steps UConn has taken to reduce and reuse their current water resources. Have they installed low flow fixtures and toilets throughout campus? Are there rain water catchment systems in place? What about reusing grey water? While it is unlikely that these measures alone could solve all of UConn's water issues, I would hope that tapping into another watershed is only being used as a last resort.
Wanda Colman January 31, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Steve, the answer to your question is YES. UConn has done a commendable job in the area of water conservation.
Robert Kalechman January 31, 2013 at 04:02 PM
What i said at the debate for Simsbury's State Representative in November before the election Mr Hampton is just trying to support a lobby that only interest is the Water Shed people and their well being and ilke I debated who will tax and spend the peoples money we have had over sixth years of a democrat representative in Simsbury and not one thing to show for it but a better good old boy system that Tax and spends and cost the tax payers More money each year wait and see what your new taxes will be .we now send more tax dollars then ever before to Hartford and what do we get in return What do the citizen pay for a system that only supports a one party system with taxes and grant money which is State taxes that people think is someone elses money it your tax dollars which goes to the to the democratic party in my opinion water leave it to the Mr Hampton the democrat he will find a way to tax water the staff of life remember a vote or support for Mr Hampton is a vote for the the well to do and the well connected What is next Change 1st Amendment rights to speak and have people of Simsbury arrested for speaking out in public meetings Think About it Robert H. Kalechman Candidate 16th State House District Simsbury
Sally Rieger February 01, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Jason Coite is incorrect in saying that there is already state-wide water planning in effect. First, although Coite is correct that under the 1985 State of CT legislation, there are 7 water planning management areas in the state responsible for REGIONALwater planning This is not.the STATE-WIDE planning, looking at the state as a unit, that Representative Hampton has called for. To discredit Mr. Coite's remarks further, I would point out that under the regional system, UCONN is in the Northeast Management Area and that the state authorized Water Utility Coordinating Committee that would do the regional planning there has simply never met. So not only is there no state-wide planning, there hasn't even been regional planning in the UCONN area as state legislation from the 1980's called for. For additional background information on this topic, you can read the CEQ comments on the current EIE on supplying water to UCONN or you can visit the website below. .www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/government_relations/2010_reports/2010_wucc_report.pdf This site provides good background information.
Brian C. Duffy February 01, 2013 at 01:20 AM
"The bill already has support from Sen. Kevin Witkos (R—8th Dist.)." Is Witkos on your Lazy Politician list as well?
James Clifton February 01, 2013 at 01:09 PM
UCONN has finally gotten around to water conservation. It took longer than one might expect for an institution of higher learning. Relative to the "Water Planning Council" cited by Mr. Coite as the regional planning organization - I just reviewed their 2012 meeting minutes and UCONN nor MDC were stated participants. So it would seem that some of the logical steps in a watershed diversion are being avoided. Why? Jim

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