Who decides how water supply is distributed in CT? Who indeed? In many cases the decision process is ill-defined, improvised, and reactive. Water supply is regulated in part by the state’s Department of Public Health, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the Office of Policy and Management, but a number of other entities have influence, depending on the situation. When stakeholders feel they must scramble for a say in a haphazard decision process that does not allow for their participation, the resulting rumble wastes everyone’s time and resources, and does not foster good water management.
What’s a reasonable geographic scale of water supply planning? Historically, people clustered where there was water and managed it fairly locally. Now that we can pipe water long distances, how far makes sense? We need to decide what we mean by “inter-basin transfers” and really understand their economic and ecologic impact at local and regional scales.
Where’s the balance between having a river and drinking it too? Let’s get over the lopsided notion that clean water in a river is a wasted commodity that someone should be able to sell. Aside from its value for recreation, tourism, real estate values, and maintaining groundwater, river water supports a biological community that provides vast additional free services that maintain our valley’s productivity and resilience. That’s why we call it a public good.
Why are reservoirs, rivers, and groundwater treated as if unconnected to each other? Our regulatory system has not kept up with our scientific knowledge of how water really exists in the landscape. For more on this, we encourage you to come to “Water 101” a presentation by Virginia de Lima of USGS, on Sept 19, at Roaring Brook Nature Center (more details on our website calendar at frwa.org).
How can water companies pay for upkeep of their supply systems, now that their customers buy less water? With new business models, that’s how. It’s a challenge to pay for good water infrastructure with less water income, but some companies and countries are already experimenting with solutions. Here in Connecticut, we should look into what works best, and get started.
[This article is from FRWA's fall newsletter. The entire issue is available online at www.frwa.org under Publications or from the FRWA office.]