Connecticut Seal

nsSmallSeal

House of Representatives

File No. 647

General Assembly

 

February Session, 2018

(Reprint of File No. 3)

Substitute House Bill No. 5130

 

As Amended by House
Amendment Schedule "A"

Approved by the Legislative Commissioner

April 26, 2018

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SEWAGE SPILL RIGHT-TO-KNOW ACT AND EXPANDING CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR WASTEWATER OPERATORS.

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

Section 1. Subsection (d) of section 22a-416 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(d) As used in this section the terms "class I", "class II", "class III" and "class IV" mean the classifications of wastewater treatment plants provided for in regulations adopted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection may establish requirements for the presence of approved operators at pollution abatement facilities. Applicants for class I and class II certificates shall only be required to pass the relevant standardized national examination prepared by the Association of Boards of Certification for Wastewater Treatment Facility Operators. Applicants for class III and class IV certificates shall only be required to pass the relevant standardized national examination prepared by the Association of Boards of Certification for Wastewater Treatment Facility Operators supplemented with additional questions submitted by the commissioner to such board. Operators with certificates issued by the commissioner prior to May 16, 1995, shall not be required to be reexamined. The commissioner shall administer and proctor the examination of all applicants. The qualifications of the operators at such facilities shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner. The commissioner may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, requiring all operators at pollution abatement facilities to satisfactorily complete, on a regular basis, a state-certified training course, which may include training on the type of municipal pollution abatement facility at which the operator is employed and training concerning regulations promulgated during the preceding year. Any applicant for certification who passed either the examination prepared and administered on December 8, 1994, by the commissioner or the examination prepared by the Association of Boards of Certification for Wastewater Treatment Facility Operators and administered on December 8, 1994, by the commissioner shall be issued the appropriate certificate in accordance with the regulations adopted under this section. On and after October 1, 2018, each certified operator shall obtain not less than six hours of continuing education each year. A record of such continuing education shall be maintained by the certified operator and by the facility employing the operator and shall be made available for inspection upon request by the commissioner.

Sec. 2. Section 22a-424a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) For the purposes of this section:

(1) "Sewage treatment plant or collection system" means any sewage treatment plant, water pollution control facility, related pumping station, collection system or other public sewage works;

(2) "Sewage spill" means the diversion of wastes from any portion of a sewage treatment plant or collection system in this state that reasonably initiates public health, safety or welfare concerns, or environmental concerns; [and]

(3) "Combined sewer" means structures which are designed to convey both sanitary and storm sewage, and allow the overflow of such combined sewage, untreated, to the waters of the state during periods of high flows; and

(4) "Electronic report" means a reporting form that uses an electronic format as prescribed by the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection.

(b) On and after July 1, 2013, the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection shall post, on the department's Internet web site, a map of the state indicating the combined sewer overflows anticipated to occur during certain storm events. The web site may include the following relevant information about the overflows: (1) Location, anticipated duration and extent; (2) reasonable public health, safety or environmental concerns; and (3) public safety precautions that should be taken.

(c) (1) On and after July 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection shall post, on the department's Internet web site, notice of unanticipated sewage spills and waters of the state that have chronic and persistent sewage contamination that represents a threat to public health, as determined by the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health. Any notice posted pursuant to this subsection may contain the following relevant information as best determined from the reported sewage spill incident: [(1)] (A) The estimated volume of discharge; [(2)] (B) the level of treatment of the discharge; [(3)] (C) the date and time the incident occurred; [(4)] (D) the location of the discharge; [(5)] (E) the estimated or actual time the discharge ceased; [(6)] (F) the geographic area impacted by the discharge; [(7)] (G) the steps taken to contain the discharge; [(8)] (H) reasonable public health, safety or welfare concerns or environmental concerns; and [(9)] (I) public safety precautions that should be taken.

(2) On and after July 1, 2018, not later than two hours after becoming aware of any sewage spill, the operator of a sewage treatment plant or collection system shall submit an electronic report to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

(3) On and after July 1, 2018, not later than two hours after becoming aware of any sewage spill that exceeds five thousand gallons or that is anticipated to exceed five thousand gallons, the operator of a sewage treatment plant or collection system shall notify the chief elected official of the municipality where the sewage spill occurred. As soon as practicable after receiving any such notification, such municipality shall inform the public and downstream public officials, as appropriate.

(d) The Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection shall consult with the Commissioner of Public Health, operators of sewage treatment plant or collection systems and state and local environmental and health agencies when developing the notice required by subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section.

(e) Any report to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that is required pursuant to section 22a-430-3 of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies shall be submitted as an electronic report.

(f) The failure to file an electronic report pursuant to any provision of this section shall be deemed a violation of the provisions of this section for purposes of section 22a-438.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2018

22a-416(d)

Sec. 2

from passage

22a-424a

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Various Municipalities

Potential Cost

Up to 3,000

Up to 3,000

The bill as amended may result in costs to various municipalities, for wastewater treatment plant operators to obtain continuing education credits. It is anticipated that larger cities have up to six wastewater treatment plant operators and that continuing education credit requirements may cost up to $500 per employee.

To the extent costs for continuing education are paid for by the local water pollution control authorities (WPCA), there may be costs to various municipalities, estimated at up to $3,000 annually.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact described above would continue into the future subject to the number of employees in each municipal WPCA.

House “A” replaced the underlying bill with the provision and fiscal impact described above.

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5130 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SEWAGE SPILL RIGHT-TO-KNOW ACT AND EXPANDING CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR WASTEWATER OPERATORS.

SUMMARY

This bill (1) adds to the reporting requirements applicable to sewage treatment plants or collection systems and establishes civil or criminal penalties, as applicable, for failing to electronically report as the bill requires; (2) establishes continuing education requirements for certified wastewater treatment facility operators; and (3) makes several technical changes.

Beginning July 1, 2018, the bill requires sewage treatment plant or collection system operators, within two hours after becoming aware of a sewage spill, to submit an electronic report about it to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). And if a spill exceeds 5,000 gallons, or is anticipated to do so, the operator must notify the chief elected municipal official where the spill occurred. The municipality must then, as soon as practicable, notify the public and downstream public officials, as appropriate, of the spill.

The bill also requires any report required under the state's regulations on general conditions for water discharge permits to be submitted as an electronic report.

Lastly, the bill requires certified wastewater treatment facility operators to annually obtain at least six hours of continuing education. The operators and the facilities at which they work must keep a record of the continuing education and make it available if the DEEP commissioner requests it. Existing law and regulations require operators to pass an examination and meet certain education requirements as part of their certification (CGS 22a-416; Conn. Agencies Regs. 22a-416-4).

*House Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 3), which instead (1) added to DEEP's notice responsibilities after a reported spill incident and (2) required DEEP to establish and administer a certification renewal process and continuing education program for wastewater facility operators.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the sewage spill notice provisions and October 1, 2018 for the wastewater operator requirements.

ELECTRONIC REPORTING

Sewage Spill

The bill's sewage spill notice requirements apply to any sewage treatment plant, water pollution control facility, related pumping station, collection system, or other public sewage works. A “sewage spill” is waste diverted from any part of a sewage treatment plant or collection system that results in reasonable public health or safety or environmental concerns.

Existing regulations on reporting bypass events (i.e., diversion of waste from a wastewater collection or treatment facility) already require facilities to report the events to DEEP within two hours of becoming aware of them and provide a written report, within five days after they occur, on the cause, duration, and corrective actions (Conn. Agencies Regs. 22a-430-3).

Other Reports

Under the bill, each report that must be submitted to DEEP under the existing regulations on water discharge permits must be submitted electronically. Some of the reports required by the regulations include monitoring reports, permit-mandated reports, and reports on discharges that exceed certain thresholds (Conn. Agencies Regs. 22a-430-3).

Penalties

Under the bill, electronic reports must be made on a reporting form as the DEEP commissioner prescribes. Failing to file an electronic report as the bill requires is a violation and subject to civil or criminal penalties, as applicable.

Civil. Under the bill, failing to file an electronic report related to wastewater discharge, including sewage spills, is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. The court determines the amount, but each violation is a separate offense. For continuing violations, each day a violation continues is considered a separate offense (CGS 22a-438(a)).

Criminal. The bill subjects anyone who, with criminal negligence, fails to file an electronic report related to wastewater discharge, including sewage spills, to a fine up of to $25,000 per day of violation, up to one year in prison, or both. A subsequent violation is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation, up to two years in prison, or both (CGS 22a-438(b)).

Anyone who knowingly fails to file a required report is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation, up to three years in prison, or both. A subsequent conviction for a violation is a class C felony, punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both (CGS 22a-438(c)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

30

Nay

0

(02/28/2018)

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