OLR Bill Analysis

sHB-7220 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH'S RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING SAFE DRINKING WATER.

SUMMARY

This bill makes various changes affecting public water systems and the oversight of small water companies. Among other things, the bill:

1. requires, by January 1, 2020, certain water companies to submit to the Department of Public Health (DPH) a fiscal and asset management plan for all capital assets of each of their small community public water systems serving 1,000 or fewer residents;

2. requires the DPH commissioner to publish on the department's website a schedule of civil penalties imposed under the safe drinking water statutes, rather than adopting them in regulations as under current law; and

3. requires the DPH commissioner to notify the public at least six months before publishing the civil penalty schedule and hold a public hearing within 30 days after such notification.

The bill defines a “small water company” as a water company, other than a state agency, that (1) supplies water to less than 1,000 people or 250 consumers or (2) is not required to submit a water supply plan to DPH (e.g., contingency procedures for public drinking water supply emergencies).

The bill also makes minor and technical changes.

*House Amendment “A” removes the provisions in the original bill on (1) placing certain small water companies in receivership for abandoning operations or failing to correct certain violations, (2) authorizing DPH to appoint a temporary manager for such small water companies, and (3) authorizing DPH to take certain actions in connection with an investigation of a small water company in receivership.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

1 — FISCAL AND ASSET MANAGEMENT PLANS

Plan Contents

The bill requires each water company to prepare a fiscal and asset management plan for all capital assets of each of the company's small community water systems (i.e., those regularly serving between 25 and 1,000 year-round residents).

The fiscal and asset management plan must include:

1. a list of all capital assets of the small community water system;

2. the assets' (a) useful life, based on their current condition, (b) maintenance and service history, and (c) manufacturer's recommendation; and

3. the water company's plan for reconditioning, refurbishing, or replacing the assets.

The bill requires the water company to begin creating the plan by assessing its hydropneumatic pressure tanks as its initial priority.

Under the bill, as under existing law, “water company” means any individual, municipality, or entity that owns, maintains, operates, manages, controls, or employs any pond, lake, reservoir, well, stream, or distributing plan or system that supplies water to two or more consumers or to 25 or more people on a regular basis.

Deadline

The bill requires water companies to complete the fiscal and asset management plan by January 1, 2020. But they must first complete an assessment review of the hydropneumatic pressure tanks at each of their small community water systems by May 1, 2018 on a form DPH prepares.

The bill also requires water companies to update the fiscal and asset management plan annually and make it available to DPH upon request.

Exceptions

The plan requirement does not apply to a water company that is (1) regulated by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, (2) required to submit a water supply plan to DPH, or (3) a state agency.

The bill deems the report requirement to relate to the purity and adequacy of water supplies for the purpose of imposing a penalty for violating statutory or regulatory requirements regarding public water supply purity, adequacy, or testing.

Regulations

The bill authorizes the DPH commissioner to adopt regulations to implement the fiscal and asset management plan requirement.

2 — CIVIL PENALTIES

Publishing Civil Penalty Schedule

Current law requires the DPH commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a schedule of civil penalties that may be imposed against water companies for violation of state laws and regulations regarding the purity, adequacy, and testing of public water supplies.

The bill instead requires the commissioner to publish the civil penalty schedule on the department's website if the penalty for a violation has not been established by statute. The commissioner must do this annually, or when he deems it necessary in response to any guidelines or rules issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Notwithstanding the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (UAPA), the bill does not require the commissioner to adopt or revise any regulations for imposing these civil penalties.

Within six months before publishing the civil penalty schedule on the DPH website, the commissioner must publish a notice in the Connecticut Law Journal of his intention to do so. The notice must include the civil penalty schedule and the date the commissioner intends to hold a public hearing on the matter. He must hold the hearing within 30 days after publishing the notice.

Notice of Violations

By law, the DPH commissioner must notify a water company before imposing a civil penalty for failing to correct a violation within a specified date. He may do this by certified mail, return receipt requested, or personal service. The bill specifies that for the latter, the notification must be served to the address the water company filed with the department, or if the water company failed to do so, the company's last known address on file.

If the civil penalty is imposed for a continuing violation, the bill requires the notice to include the initial date the penalty is imposed. For an isolated violation, the notice must include the date for which it is imposed. By law, the notice must include additional information, such as a statement of the violation and the water company's right to a hearing.

Administrative Appeal

By law, a water company can contest the penalty by applying to the DPH commissioner for an administrative hearing under the UAPA within 20 days after receiving notice of the penalty. The bill requires the application to include a detailed statement of all the grounds for contesting the penalty.

Existing law, unchanged by the bill, requires the water company to send a copy of the application to the health director of the municipalities in which the violation occurred or that use the water that was the subject of the violation. A water company aggrieved by a DPH order may appeal to Superior Court.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

23

Nay

3

(03/27/2017)