OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 300 (File 553, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING NEW BRITAIN WATER COMPANY LAND.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires New Britain, within 180 days after the bill's passage, to commission an independent third-party environmental study of the potential impact of New Britain changing the use of the city's water company-owned Class I and Class II land to allow the lease of 131.4 acres owned by New Britain (the “0 Biddle Pass” in Plainville) for extracting stone and other minerals. The Water Planning Council (WPC), in consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), must approve the party conducting the study.

Among other things, the bill:

1. specifies the required components of the study;

2. requires the third party to report on its study, and WPC and CEQ to review the report and submit written comments to New Britain, which must then hold a public hearing; and

3. requires the WPC, in consultation with the CEQ, to report on these matters and the councils' recommendations to the Environment and Public Health committees.

The bill repeals an obsolete provision from 2007 requiring the Department of Public Health (DPH), within available resources, to commission a third-party evaluation on the environmental impact of allowing New Britain to change the use of the city's water company-owned land to allow the leasing of the “0 Biddle Pass” for the same purpose as set forth above. (That evaluation was never completed.)

The bill also repeals a law that allows any municipality owning land purchased in January 1999 (1) previously used for agricultural purposes and (2) that is watershed land or next to watershed land to use it for a municipal golf course under certain conditions. Under this law, among other things, the golf course must use best management practices, including integrated pest management and above-ground storage of chemicals and fuels.

*Senate Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 553). The amendment adds the repealer sections. It also makes various changes to the required study in the underlying bill, such as (1) eliminating the requirement that New Britain supervise the study; (2) transferring various responsibilities, with modifications, from DPH to the WPC and CEQ; (3) changing certain components of the required study; (4) adding the public hearing requirement; (5) eliminating the requirement that the energy and environmental protection commissioner review and comment on the study; and (6) adding the Environment Committee as a recipient of the final report.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

NEW BRITAIN WATER COMPANY-OWNED LAND

Third-Party Environmental Study and Review of Study

The bill specifies the required components of the environmental study of the potential impact of New Britain changing the use of water company-owned land as described above. The study must analyze the:

1. likely environmental impact of this change of use on local hydrology, forest ecology, natural land resources and formations, and wetlands systems;

2. long-term water supply needs for New Britain as well as interconnected, and reasonably feasible interconnected, water companies in the region surrounding the areas supplied by New Britain's water reservoir system;

3. likely safe yield increase to New Britain's water reservoir system that could be supplied by the change of use;

4. the likely impact of the change of use on raw reservoir water quality;

5. available ways to minimize environmental impacts from the change of use; and

6. permits required for the change of use.

After the selected third party finishes the study, it must report in writing on the study's results to the WPC, CEQ, and New Britain's conservation commission.

The bill requires the WPC and CEQ, within 90 days after receiving this report, to review it to (1) determine the potential impact on the environment and the purity and adequacy of the existing and future public water supply and (2) provide guidance to the New Britain Water Department on the suitability of the best management practices identified in the report for protecting the environment, the public water supply, and public health.

The WPC and CEQ must make written comments of this review and submit them to New Britain. Within 15 days after receiving these comments, the city must post the report and the comments on the city's website.

Public Hearing

Under the bill, New Britain must hold a public hearing in the city, within 30 days after receiving the councils' comments on the report. The city must publish notice of the report and the hearing in a general circulation newspaper in the city. The notice must include (1) directions on how the public may obtain a copy of the report and comments; (2) a statement informing the public of the opportunity to submit comments on the report to the WPC for a 30–day period; and (3) the date, time, and location of the public hearing.

WPC Report

The bill requires the WPC, within 60 days after the public hearing and in consultation with the CEQ, to submit to the Environment and Public Health committees (1) the third-party's report on its environmental study, (2) the councils' comments, (3) a summary of public comments on the report and the councils' comments, and (4) the councils' recommendations.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

28

Nay

0

(03/21/2016)

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

26

Nay

2

(04/19/2016)