State: Montville's Water Supply Plan needs work

Montville - The state has said the town's Water Supply Plan requires further revisions before state agencies will accept an updated version of it.

For now, the town's old plan from 2003 still stands.

The plan includes information about sources of water used in Montville, projections of water use needs and projections of water availability.

A July 3 letter from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Planning and Standard Division Director Denise Ruzicka to state Department of Public Health Drinking Water Section Chief Lori Mathieu states, in part: " … immediate additional water supply sources must be identified as part of this document. Also, the Water Conservation Plan is still inadequate."

A July 17 letter from Mathieu to Montville Water Pollution Control Authority Administrator Brian Lynch says that the town has until Dec. 31, 2015, to satisfy the requested changes.

While DPH takes the lead on approvals of water supply plans, DEEP must be satisfied with a plan before DPH accepts it, according to DPH Drinking Water Section Supervisor Michael Hage.

DEEP Supervising Environmental Analyst Corinne Fitting, who works in the Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, elaborated on the July 3 letter Wednesday. She said that Montville needed to provide more detail about future sources of additional water so that DEEP could provide the town with feedback about the sources. For example, the agency could theoretically determine that a certain water source can only be used to a limited degree due to the presence of endangered species.

She also said that the town reported that it had 1.93 million gallons of water available for daily use. While this amount would be sufficient to cover the town's projected highest usage, DEEP wants the town to be able to supply 15 percent more water in case of an emergency, she said.

As for the conservation plan section, she said the town did not provide sufficient backup information. As an example, she said that the town reported it had made fliers asking residents to conserve water, but that it had not included an example of such a flier in what it submitted.

Lynch said at the WPCA meeting Monday that he thought DEEP's suggested revisions would involve enough work for the WPCA that the authority should hire a firm to draft a new plan.

"We're better off just starting the plan over again," he said.

The plan for which DEEP has suggested revisions was submitted to DPH in 2007 as an updated version of a plan prepared for the town by Amory Engineers in 2002. DPH rejected the 2007 version, and the town submitted revisions to DPH in 2012. DEEP received that last version in June 2014, according to Fitting.

She said DEEP should have received the version sooner but that there had been an oversight. She said she was not sure who was responsible.

State statute requires revisions every six to nine years, but the timeline can be extended with DPH approval, according to Hage.

A water company can face a fine of $5,000 per day that it does not meet water supply plan requirements according to state law, but Hage said that he was not aware of any water companies facing penalties since the plans became a requirement in the 1980s.

Hage and Fitting said it is fairly common for plans to require revisions before the state accepts them. Hage said water companies in Noank and Preston are also still working on bringing their plans up to date.

"It's not usual for us to accept it on the first round," Fitting said.

State agencies may use Water Supply Plans submitted by individual water companies when determining whether to give municipalities permits for things such as water diversions or water sales, or grants, according to Hage. Fitting said that the plans also inform regional water plans.

WPCA Chairman Tim May, who is also on the Town Council, referred to the plan as a "formality" and described it as "arduous" to complete.

"It doesn't really do much for us. It's just a requirement we have to fill," he said.

t.townsend@theday.com
Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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