OLR Bill Analysis
sHB7221 (as amended by House "A")*
AN ACT CONCERNING ACCESS TO WATER PLANNING INFORMATION.
This bill revamps the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption for certain water company records. Generally, it removes water company records from the coverage of an existing FOIA exemption that applies to all public agency records if reasonable grounds exist to believe that their release could pose a security risk. It instead identifies specific water company records filed with a public agency as confidential and not subject to disclosure under FOIA. In addition to these specified records, the bill also makes confidential any other water company record filed with a public agency if there are reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure may result in a safety risk.
The bill requires water companies, when submitting a water supply plan (or revision to a plan) to the Department of Public Health, to also submit a copy of the plan that is redacted in accordance with the bill's provisions on confidential records.
*House Amendment “A” (1) makes minor changes to the types of records not subject to disclosure; (2) adds the provision on submitting a redacted copy of a water supply plan; (3) modifies the procedure for determining whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a safety risk exists; and (4) changes the effective date from October 1, 2017, to July 1, 2017.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017
APPLICABILITY OF FOIA TO WATER COMPANY RECORDS
Under FOIA, a “public agency” is generally any (1) state, municipal, regional, or quasi-public agency, including any judicial office, or (2) entity that is the functional equivalent of such agencies (CGS § 1-200). The law defines a water company as any individual, municipality, or entity that owns, maintains, operates, manages, controls, or employs any pond, lake, reservoir, well, stream, or distributing plant or system that supplies water to two or more consumers or to 25 or more people on a regular basis (CGS § 25-32a).
Thus, a water company itself is subject to FOIA if the company is a public agency. If a water company is not such a public agency, its records may still be subject to FOIA if they are submitted to a public agency (e.g., a water supply plan submitted to the Department of Public Health).
The bill revamps the FOIA exemption for certain water company records, as described below.
Existing law exempts records from disclosure under FOIA when there are reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure may result in a safety risk, including the risk of harm to any government-owned or -leased institution or facility. Under current law, a government-owned or -leased institution or facility includes an institution or facility owned or leased by a water company. The bill removes water company-owned or –leased institutions and facilities from this exemption and instead identifies specific water company records filed with a public agency as confidential and not subject to disclosure under FOIA (see RECORDS DEEMED CONFIDENTIAL BY THE BILL below).
Records covered by existing law's exemption generally include security manuals or reports; operational specifications of security systems; and emergency plans and emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation plans. Water company records covered by this exemption include:
1. vulnerability assessments and risk management plans;
2. operational plans;
3. portions of water supply plans that could result in a security risk if disclosed;
4. inspection reports;
5. technical specifications; and
6. other materials that depict or specifically describe critical water company operating facilities, collection and distribution systems, or supply sources.
Procedure for Determining Whether Exemption Applies
The bill makes a conforming change by eliminating the applicability to water company records of existing law's procedures for determining a security risk. Generally under these procedures, the administrative services or emergency services and public protection commissioner must determine whether there are reasonable grounds for a security risk, after consulting with the chief executive officer of the agency with custody of the record. For water company records, the bill also eliminates requirements in current law that the (1) custodial agency notify the water company of the request and (2) respective commissioners consult with the water company's chief executive officer when determining if a security risk exists.
RECORDS DEEMED CONFIDENTIAL BY THE BILL
The bill deems the following water company records filed with a public agency as confidential and not subject to disclosure under FOIA:
1. cybersecurity plans and measures, supervisory control and data acquisition systems, information and communications systems, system access codes and specifications, vulnerability assessments, internal security audits, security manuals, security training or security reports, including security assessments, plans and procedures, operational and design specifications of water and sewage treatment facility security systems, or risk management plans;
2. emergency contingency plans and emergency preparedness plans, incident management plans, response, recovery, and mitigation plans or critical customer lists, including plans provided by a person to a federal or state agency or a federal, state, or local emergency management agency or official, or documents or portions of documents that identify or describe procedures for sabotage prevention and response, except that drought management and response plans are subject to disclosure;
3. design drawings or maps identifying specific locations, detailed schematics and construction details of wells, source water intakes, water mains, tunnels, storage facilities, water and sewage treatment facilities or pump stations and pressure reducing stations, and other distribution system pressure and flow control valves and facilities, provided information about general location of water mains, wells and interconnections are subject to disclosure;
4. dam specifications or safety documents, including (a) inspection reports, engineering studies or reports, drawings, plans, and specifications detailing construction or rehabilitation and (b) emergency action plans, including plans provided to a federal or state agency or a federal, state, or local emergency response or emergency management agency or official;
5. building floor or structural plans, specifications of structural elements, or building security systems or codes;
6. detailed network topology maps;
7. specific locations of or specifications about electrical power, standby generators, or fuel systems for water system facilities, except that general information about electrical power, standby generators, or fuel systems for water system facilities may be disclosed;
8. operational specifications, schematics and procedures of water and sewage treatment plant processes and associated equipment and chemicals, including facility use of chlorine gas storage and delivery and the location of chemicals, except that a general description of the treatment plant may be disclosed;
9. logs or other documents that contain information about the movement or assignment of water system and sewage treatment facilities and security personnel; and
10. distribution system hydraulic models.
In addition to these specified records, the bill also makes confidential any other water company record filed with a public agency if there are reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure may result in a safety risk. Upon the water company's request, such a record may be reviewed by the administrative services commissioner, in consultation with the chief executive officer of the executive branch state agency or municipal water or sewage treatment entity that has custody of the record, to determine if reasonable grounds exist.
Public Health Committee
Joint Favorable Substitute
Government Administration and Elections Committee