OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5480 (as amended by House “A”)*

AN ACT REQUIRING AN ASSESSMENT OF THE USE OF CERTAIN PESTICIDES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT PLANT SCIENCE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FACILITY AND PROHIBITING TAMPERING WITH HYDRANTS.

SUMMARY:

This bill prohibits opening, operating, taking water from, or tampering with a hydrant, or taking water from or tampering with a public water supply reservoir without (1) legal authority to do so or (2) consent from the water utility, municipality, or other entity that owns or controls the hydrant or reservoir.

Violators are subject to a $500 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses. The bill subjects violators to the mail-in procedures for infractions and certain violations, allowing them to pay the fine without having to appear in court.

*House Amendment “A” (1) removes the provisions requiring an assessment of pesticide use at the University of Connecticut's (UConn) Plant Science Research and Education Facility and transferring funds from UConn to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to investigate groundwater flow quality and (2) makes the ban on certain hydrant and reservoir use effective October 1, 2013.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2013, except the mail-in procedure provision takes effect upon passage.

BACKGROUND

Related Laws

By law, theft of utility service (e.g., electric, gas, water, or telecommunications) is considered larceny. This includes tampering or connecting to equipment used by a water supplier, without the supplier's consent, to avoid paying. The punishment depends on the value of the property or service taken, ranging from a class C misdemeanor when the value is $500 or less to a class B felony when the value is more than $20,000 (CGS 53a-119).

The law also prohibits causing or allowing any pollutant or harmful substance to enter a public water supply reservoir or its tributaries and subjects violators to a fine of up to $500. A person who causes or allows a pollutant or harmful substance to enter a reservoir, lake, pond, or a stream tributary to these waters, after being notified that the water source supplies residents with water, is subject to the same fine, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both. The law allows a water company to bring a civil action in Superior Court to recover damages, expenses, and costs from responding to these violations and remediating and abating any contamination (CGS 25-43).

Legislative History

The House referred the bill (File 498) to the Appropriations Committee, which reported out a substitute (File 811) adding a provision transferring up to $100,000 of certain appropriated funds in the 2013 biennial budget bill from UConn to DEEP to investigate bedrock groundwater flow quality.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

21

Nay

7

(03/25/2013)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

40

Nay

10

(04/30/2013)