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    Tuesday, August 16, 2022

    Biz and enviro lobbies to battle stations over proposed water regulations

    A coalition of water companies, public utilities, small town officials and municipal lobbying groups are banding together in an effort to block new regulations drafted by the Department of Environmental Protection to regulate stream and river-flow in Connecticut.

     The DEP draft regulations will be the subject of

    The DEP draft regulations will be the subject of a public hearing in Hartford on Thursday, more than four years after a 2005 law directed the DEP to draw up the rules for governing the flow in streams across the state. The law came after a court decision that held that existing streamflow regulations only applied to those bodies of water where the DEP stocks fish. 

     Backers of the regulations, led by longtime Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, say they will help balance industrial and commercial use of water, for everything from irrigating fields to watering golf courses to providing for your long, hot showers, with the needs of aquatic plant and animal life and the watershed itself. And the new regulations, sponsors believe, will help keep overdrawing from state water bodies from sucking them dry. See

    Backers of the regulations, led by longtime Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, say they will help balance industrial and commercial use of water, for everything from irrigating fields to watering golf courses to providing for your long, hot showers, with the needs of aquatic plant and animal life and the watershed itself. And the new regulations, sponsors believe, will help keep overdrawing from state water bodies from sucking them dry. See another good piece from the New Haven Independent for Mushinsky's take.

     But opposition is massing this week, in the form of a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, at which water companies will warn that the new regs could raise the cost of residential water bills, lead to water shortages during times of drought, and could even prevent new home-building and development in some areas if the potential water demands would outstrip the amount that could be legally pulled from rivers and streams.

    But opposition is massing this week, in the form of a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, at which water companies will warn that the new regs could raise the cost of residential water bills, lead to water shortages during times of drought, and could even prevent new home-building and development in some areas if the potential water demands would outstrip the amount that could be legally pulled from rivers and streams.

     DEP spokesman Dennis Schain says the agency welcomes public comments, but also defended against the charges that the new rules would be onerous.

    DEP spokesman Dennis Schain says the agency welcomes public comments, but also defended against the charges that the new rules would be onerous.

     "We had a lot of time and effort that went into these proposed regs," Schain said. "We had a stakeholder group with a wide variety of groups and interest groups. We think the process they spell out will provide a really balanced system to balance human needs for drinking, business and industry, while protecting aquatic life and habitat and water quality."

    "We had a lot of time and effort that went into these proposed regs," Schain said. "We had a stakeholder group with a wide variety of groups and interest groups. We think the process they spell out will provide a really balanced system to balance human needs for drinking, business and industry, while protecting aquatic life and habitat and water quality."

     For a detailed explanation of how the regulations were drafted and how they'll work, see

    For a detailed explanation of how the regulations were drafted and how they'll work, see this pdf from the DEP. More background and the draft regulations themselves can be found here.

     And keep in mind that this process has a ways to go. DEP's public hearing this week begins a public comment period which runs through Feb. 4. After that period is up, the agency will make any changes arising from those public comments to the draft regulations. Then they must be approved by the state legislature's Regulations Review Committee before they take effect.

    And keep in mind that this process has a ways to go. DEP's public hearing this week begins a public comment period which runs through Feb. 4. After that period is up, the agency will make any changes arising from those public comments to the draft regulations. Then they must be approved by the state legislature's Regulations Review Committee before they take effect.

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