Substitute Senate Bill No. 1129

Public Act No. 01-185

AN ACT CONCERNING RIGHTS OF WATER COMPANY CONSUMERS AND THE DISSOLUTION OF THE NEW HARTFORD WATER COMPANY.

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

Section 1. Section 25-32e of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) If, upon review, investigation or inspection, the Commissioner of Public Health determines that a water company has violated any provision of section 25-32, section 25-32d or any regulation adopted under section 25-32d, or any regulation in the Public Health Code relating to the purity and adequacy of water supplies or to the testing of water supplies or any report of such testing, the commissioner may impose a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars per violation per day upon such water company. Governmental immunity shall not be a defense against the imposition of any civil penalty imposed pursuant to this section. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, establishing a schedule or schedules of the amounts, or the ranges of amounts, of civil penalties which may be imposed under this section. In adopting such regulations, the commissioner shall consider the size of or the number of persons served by the water company, the level of assessment necessary to insure immediate and continued compliance with such provision, and the character and degree of injury or impairment to or interference with or threat thereof to: (1) The purity of drinking water supplies; (2) the adequacy of drinking water supplies; and (3) the public health, safety or welfare. No such civil penalty may be imposed until the regulations required by this subsection have been adopted.

(b) In setting a civil penalty in a particular case, the commissioner shall consider all factors which the commissioner deems relevant, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) The amount of assessment necessary to insure immediate and continued compliance with such provision; (2) the character and degree of impact of the violation on the purity and adequacy of drinking water supplies; (3) whether the water company incurring the civil penalty is taking all feasible steps or procedures necessary or appropriate to comply with such provisions or to correct the violation; (4) any prior violations by such water company of statutes, regulations, orders or permits administered, adopted or issued by the commissioner; (5) the character and degree of injury to, or interference with, public health, safety or welfare which has been or may be caused by such violation; and (6) after the adoption of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act Public Notification Rule pursuant to section 5 of this act, whether the consumers of the water company have been notified of such violation pursuant to such rule.

(c) If the commissioner has reason to believe that a violation has occurred, the commissioner may impose a penalty if compliance is not achieved by a specified date and send to the violator, by certified mail, return receipt requested, or personal service, a notice which shall include: (1) A reference to the sections of the statute or regulation involved; (2) a short and plain statement of the matters asserted or charged; (3) a statement of the amount of the civil penalty or penalties to be imposed; (4) the initial date of the imposition of the penalty; and (5) a statement of the party's right to a hearing. The commissioner shall send a copy of such notice to the local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which such violation occurred or that utilize such water.

(d) The civil penalty shall be payable for noncompliance on the date specified in subsection (c) of this section and for each day thereafter until the water company against which the penalty was issued notifies the commissioner that the violation has been corrected. Upon receipt of such notification, the commissioner shall determine whether or not the violation has been corrected and shall notify the water company, in writing, of such determination. The water company may, within twenty days after such notice is sent by the commissioner, request a hearing to contest an adverse determination. If, after such hearing, the commissioner finds that the violation still exists, or if the water company fails to request a hearing, the penalty shall continue in force from the original date of imposition.

(e) The water company to which the notice is addressed shall have twenty days from the date of mailing of the notice to make written application to the commissioner for a hearing to contest the imposition of the penalty. The water company shall send a copy of such application to the local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which such violation occurred or that utilize such water. All hearings under this section shall be conducted pursuant to sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive, except that the presiding officer shall automatically grant each local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which such violation occurred or that utilize such water the right to be heard in the proceeding. Any civil penalty may be mitigated by the commissioner upon such terms and conditions as the commissioner, in the commissioner's discretion, deems proper or necessary upon consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

(f) A final order of the commissioner assessing a civil penalty shall be subject to appeal as set forth in section 4-183 after a hearing before the commissioner pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, except that any such appeal shall be taken to the superior court for the judicial district of New Britain and shall have precedence in the order of trial as provided in section 52-191. Such final order shall not be subject to appeal under any other provision of the general statutes. No challenge to any such final order shall be allowed as to any issue which could have been raised by an appeal of an earlier order, notice, permit, denial or other final decision by the commissioner. The local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which such violation occurred or that utilize such water for which the order was assessed shall have the right to be heard on such appeal.

(g) If any water company fails to pay any civil penalty, the Attorney General, upon request of the commissioner, may bring an action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford to obtain enforcement of the penalty by the court. All actions brought by the Attorney General pursuant to the provisions of this section shall have precedence in the order of trial as provided in section 52-191.

(h) The provisions of this section are in addition to and not in derogation of any other enforcement provisions of any statute administered by the commissioner. The powers, duties and remedies provided in such other statutes, and the existence of or exercise of any powers, duties or remedies under this section or under such other statute shall not prevent the commissioner from exercising any other powers, duties or remedies available to the commissioner at law or in equity.

Sec. 2. Section 25-32g of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

If the Commissioner of Public Health finds after investigation that any person is causing, engaging in or maintaining, or is about to cause, engage in or maintain, any condition or activity which violates any provision of sections 19a-36 to 19a-39, inclusive, or sections 25-32 to 25-54, inclusive, as amended by this act, or any regulation or permit adopted or issued thereunder and constitutes an immediate threat to the quality or adequacy of any source of water supply, [he] the commissioner may, without prior hearing, issue an order in writing to such person to discontinue, abate, alleviate or correct such condition or activity. Upon receipt of such an order such person shall immediately discontinue, abate, alleviate or correct such condition or activity. The commissioner shall, within ten days after such order, hold a hearing to provide the person an opportunity to be heard and show that such condition, activity or violation does not exist. The local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which such violation occurred or that utilize such water shall have the right to be heard in such proceeding. Such order shall remain in effect until ten days after the hearing within which time a new decision based on the hearing shall be made.

Sec. 3. Section 25-32k of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Each water company, as defined in section 25-32a, serving one thousand or more persons or two hundred fifty or more consumers, as defined in section 25-32a, shall annually provide to residential customers, without charge, educational materials or information on (1) water conservation, [and] (2) water supply source protection methods, including methods to reduce contamination, and (3) on or before July 1, 2002, and annually thereafter, information developed by the Commissioner of Public Health, pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, on the health effects and sources of lead and copper. Every year each public water company shall provide a copy of these educational materials to the Commissioner of Public Health.

(b) The Commissioner of Public Health shall, within available resources, develop, in consultation with public water suppliers, public education materials on health effects and sources of lead and copper, which shall be distributed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

[(b)] (c) The Commissioner of Public Health may impose a civil penalty on any water company that violates the provisions of this section. In imposing such civil penalty, the commissioner shall comply with the procedures set forth in section 25-32e, as amended by this act, except that the amount shall not exceed five thousand dollars per violation. Each year the company fails to offer educational materials or information on water conservation shall be deemed to be a separate violation.

Sec. 4. Subsection (a) of section 25-36 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Except as provided otherwise in this part, any person or corporation aggrieved by any order of the Department of Public Health made under the provisions of part III of this chapter, may appeal therefrom in accordance with the provisions of section 4-183, except venue shall be in the judicial district in which the source of the water or ice supply is located. If such source is located in more than one judicial district, the appeal shall be taken to the court for that judicial district containing the part of such source nearest the mouth of the stream or river forming the main portion of the source of supply. If a water company is subject to such an order and such water company takes an appeal in accordance with this subsection, the water company shall provide notice of such appeal to the local director of health in the municipality or municipalities in which a violation occurred or that utilize such water, and such local director of health shall have the right to be heard in such appeal. Each order of the Department of Public Health issued under the foregoing provisions to any person or corporation shall specify the time within which such person or corporation shall comply with the terms thereof. If such person or corporation fails to comply with the terms of such order and no appeal is taken therefrom, the state's attorney for the judicial district of Hartford shall bring a complaint against such person or corporation to the superior court for said judicial district.

Sec. 5. The Commissioner of Public Health shall, on or before December 31, 2001, adopt, pursuant to chapter 54 of the general statutes, regulations (1) to amend subparagraph (F) of subdivision (6) of subsection (j) of section 19-13-B102 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies to require a public education program for any system that exceeds the copper action level established in subparagraph (B) of subdivision (6) of subsection (j) of section 19-13-B102 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies; and (2) to adopt the provisions of 40 CFR Parts 9, 141, 142, and 143, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act Public Notification Rule, in the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.

Sec. 6. The acquisition by the town of New Hartford of all the shares and assets of The New Hartford Water Company, incorporated by number 31 of the special acts of 1889, in December, 1976, is validated and The New Hartford Water Company is hereby dissolved.

Sec. 7. This act shall take effect from its passage, except that sections 1 to 4, inclusive, shall take effect October 1, 2001.

Approved July 11, 2001