LANDS BILL - OFA Fiscal Note
The bill specifies
requirements and restrictions on the abandonment of certain watershed
and results in state and municipal impact. Passage of this bill will
result in a fiscal impact for the Departments of Public Health or
Utility Control, as its provisions will not materially alter the
Section 1 of
the bill may restrict future development activities on certain
lands, and correspondingly impact the tax base of any municipality in
such land is located. Passage of this section of the bill would result
in potential revenue loss that is not known at this time.
Section 2 of
the bill requires entities acquiring certain water companies to grant
state a permanent conservation easement (1) on the lands involved as a
condition of the approval of the transfer. It provides that the
be imposed once the abandonment of the watershed lands being
has been approved. To the extent that such an easement is considered a
taking of that land, the state would have to compensate the owner for
loss in value of the land. The average bargain sale price for such
is $5,800 per acre. Fair market value for the same lands is $12,500 per
acre, which represents an increase of more than 50%. Passage of this
of the bill would result in potential significant cost to the state. (2)
Section 3 of
the bill requires that all economic benefits from such transfers be
to ratepayers. Current law requires that these benefits be equally
between ratepayers and shareholders.
(1) A permanent
conservation easement allows for the preservation and protection of
water supplies and natural resources,
as natural, scenic or open space lands.
(2) This analysis
assumes that the Department of Environmental Protection would be
the purchase of any such lands.
for water battle; Experts anticipate legal fight over Colo. River rights
By Jerd Smith, Rocky Mountain News
December 11, 2004
will spend as much as $2
million in the next two years to build a legal war chest shoring up its
rights to the drought-plagued Colorado River. The new initiative
comes as Lake Powell and Lake Mead - the river's giant storage ponds -
have reached historic lows, triggering anxiety over future supplies
Los Angeles to Denver.
a year ago the people at the
Colorado Water Conservation Board began sounding the alarm, saying we
to move to protect ourselves, and I agreed," said Russell George,
director of the Colorado Division of Natural Resources. "Essentially
building the best legal case that Colorado can have so that we
prevail when it comes down to making decisions.
think we have a couple of years
(before the river's supplies could drop low enough to trigger a demand
for more water for Nevada, Arizona and California). But we can't waste
money is being spent on new computer
models detailing how the river's supplies will be affected by ongoing
and on creating a computerized historic archive documenting Colorado's
use of the river under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. It also will
for new legal research to help guide the state in the unlikely event
the lingering drought prompts new claims to Colorado's share of the
supplies, George said.
all, seven states have rights
to its waters. How much each state gets is outlined in the 1922
River Compact, a hard-fought document that envisioned plenty for all.
week at the annual meeting of
all the river's users in Las Vegas, Colorado plans to push to open new
talks over long-standing problems on the river surfacing because of the
drought and the West's population boom.
last 20 years have been a positive
period for coming up with imaginative solutions on the river," said Jim
Lochhead, a water attorney who advises Colorado cities on river compact
issues and a former executive director of the Colorado Division of
Resources. "The next 20 years, though, may produce more difficult
if we continue to be in a dry cycle and the system continues to go
depend on river
destiny is intimately
tied to the river whose birthplace lies high in the Never Summer
in Rocky Mountain National Park. It supplies roughly half the drinking
water 3.6 million Front Range residents use annually, provides water
snowmaking from Winter Park to Vail and irrigates the peach and apple
that dot the Western Slope.
told, roughly 25 million people
in the West depend on its liquid bounty. Nearly a century ago,
computer models could track snowmelt and streamflows, most believed the
river's largesse was boundless.
compact assumed, for instance,
the river generated about 20 million acre-feet of water annually.
writers divided up 16 million acre-feet of its supplies among the seven
states, saying they could argue over the rest later, according to
Experts now believe that surplus never existed and that the river
13 million to 13.5 million acre-feet (maf), on average. An acre-foot
326,000 gallons, enough to serve up to two urban families for one year.
seven basin states rely on excess
water generated in exceptionally wet years to make up the difference
the 13.5 maf and the 16 maf, with Lake Powell and Lake Mead acting as
bank accounts. But the past five years have been harsh and dry,
Powell and Mead of their surpluses, threatening critical electric
stations, endangering fish and drinking supplies.
to deal with shortages has never
been detailed before, George said. He and others believe all the basin
states must move deliberately and calmly to decide how the water will
shared should the drought and the population boom continue.
the goal is to have an
understanding among the seven states that everybody is cutting back and
not wasting water so that we don't have to get to a true shortage that
forces us back into our corners. That's never occurred, but we think it
would get really ugly," he said.
issues to be resolved
Colorado that means Front Range
cities and Western Slope ski towns must begin planning now for
cutbacks in their share of the river's supplies, George said. The
state's new water models are designed to help them determine what would
happen under a number of different cutback scenarios, with spring
being the wild card.
utilities with large storage
reservoirs, such as Denver Water and the Northern Colorado Conservancy
District, it will likely mean pushing hard to refill their own
systems and to safeguard supplies until it's clear that Powell and Mead
are beginning to refill, several water officials said.
we have three years to accumulate
a reserve," said Eric Wilkinson, manager of the Northern Colorado
The district serves several Front Range cities including Fort Collins,
Boulder and Broomfield. "That means we'll want to build an absolutely
(storage system) in case there is a call (for water from the Lower
the meantime, Colorado wants three
key issues resolved:
Under the 1922 compact, Mexico
is entitled to 1.5 million acre-feet of water, to be delivered from
supplies. The Upper Basin was to contribute only in times of shortage.
But since 1970, 750,000 acre-feet has been delivered from Lake Powell
That means, in Colorado's view, that the Upper Basin has delivered too
much water. "That's a fundamental issue that has to be resolved,"
Colorado also has asked U.S. Secretary
of Interior Gale Norton to reduce the historic outflow from Lake
in light of the drought. Reducing the flows from Powell would mean the
Upper Basin states could maintain a stronger buffer against a possible
demand for extra water from Nevada, Arizona and California.
And Colorado also wants Arizona
to stop storing river water it doesn't need in aquifers, further
the two giant storage ponds. "We're very concerned about that. We would
like to see it fixed right away," George said.
if snows come through this winter,
most experts believe it will take Powell and Mead years to recover,
Colorado and other Upper Basin states vulnerable to demands for more
particularly if a state of chronic, low-grade drought develops.
Keys, commissioner of the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation, hopes his agency can forestall those demands by
carefully evaluating the river's supplies and asking each state to
out ways to live with less.
biggest fear," Keys said, "is
that when this drought breaks, we'll still be short of water."
Experts: Tribes may lay
claim to waterways
Strozier, Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
The issue these
days is land, but American Indian claims in Connecticut and elsewhere
the East could eventually involve water as well, creating a legal or
quagmire for ill-prepared officials, according to legal experts.
in the arid West, American Indian water claims are almost unheard of in
states east of Missouri, experts said. Eastern states such as
also have a different doctrine of law governing water rights and it's
how American Indian claims would fit in it.
in many Eastern states is that water is abundant," said Judith Royster,
professor of law and co-director of the Native American Law Center at
University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. "And what happens if water is abundant
is that nobody is going to worry about allocating water among the
and increasing demands are hurting the East's water supply, and Royster
said that could make tribes look at their water rights more closely to
sustain federally recognized reservations. Last week, spokesmen
American Indian tribes in Connecticut said they are not preparing water
claims. Several said they had not even discussed the topic until asked
about it by The Advocate.
it's ever come up in all the years we've been doing it," said Chief
Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which has 400 acres in Kent,
of which borders the Housatonic River. "We don't see it as a potential
problem at all, and I hope it wouldn't be."
the Bureau of Indian Affairs denied the Schaghticoke (Eastern CT)
federal recognition in a preliminary decision. Scholars say federal
and federally recognized reservations, are central to obtaining tribal
water rights. Charles Bunnell, deputy chief of staff for the
tribe, said the tribe has no intention of making water rights claims.
who they are as a people," he said.
are a federally recognized tribe, with a reservation on the western
of the Thames River in Montville. Bunnell said the tribe is allowed to
claim up to 700 acres to be part of the reservation but must acquire it
from willing sellers. The Golden Hill Paugussetts plan to lay claim to
720,000 acres of the state from Waterbury to Greenwich, said Bill
chief marketing officer for the tribe. McBride would not rule out a
water claim but said it is not being considered. The tribe
preliminary rejection of their federal recognition bid last week, but
has vowed to press ahead with land claims.
McBride said about a water claim. "Right now, we are really
as to how we are going to proceed with the land claims."
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said water claims have not been
by American Indian tribes and the state would defeat them if they were.
It would take federal statute, treaty, agreement or executive order to
override sovereign state's rights to water, and Blumenthal called those
things very unlikely.
"I don't think
people should have any fear that the Connecticut River, the Quinnipiac
River or our other major waterways are going to be seized by an Indian
tribe," Blumenthal said. "Or that they will begin paying their water
to the Golden Hill Paugussetts."
The lack of
claims or litigation has not stopped academic debate on the
The discussion revolves around the different kinds of water regulation
in the East and West. Connecticut and other Eastern states have
riparianism, which requires water users to obtain permits for their
consumption. Western states have an appropriative system, which gives
first users to claim the water priority.
In the event
of an American Indian water claim in the East, the question would be
system should apply, or if either should. Needs for the water could
agriculture, fishing, mining and businesses, depending on federal
Villanova University law professor Joseph Dellapenna argues state water
systems such as regulated riparianism apply to American Indian tribes
well. In regulated riparianism, they would get permits along with other
users and share in the risk of a drought.
that a third system of "reserved rights" would apply because federally
recognized reservations are separate from state laws. The federal
would have to determine the tribe's original "time immemorial" water
such as for farming, and its current needs. Royster said water
land go together for federal tribes. "I think the water rights go with
the land," she said. "And if tribes have rights to land that includes
to water. They are inseparable."
states, American Indian tribes began asserting rights to water in big
in the 1970s, Royster said, and their victories have resulted in
hostility from non-American Indian water users. There was a
protracted fight over tribal water rights in Wyoming around the Big
state officials should study a case in Florida with the Seminole Tribe.
A settlement was reached with the state and the tribe that allowed the
tribe the right to 15 percent of the available water from specified
rather than a set gallon amount. Discussion of American Indian
rights may sound remote now, but Dellapenna and Royster said that will
change in the East. They said addressing the various water needs and
early is vital.
"It's not going
to be easy, nobody is going to argue with that," Royster said. "It's
to be a headache, but it's not insurmountable."
June 3, 2002...
Act On Water
NEIGHBORS -- Rainy days can easily wash away concerns about water
and summer drought. But the wet reprieves should not stop towns
approving water conservation ordinances. It is better to prepare
with powers that may never be used than to rush through new regulations
under emergency conditions.
The rain hasn't
relieved the water shortage entirely. In Manchester, for instance,
wells are 41/2 feet below normal levels. The April rainfall was 1 inch
less than normal.
Board of Directors is debating a water ordinance and is expected to act
after some questions are answered. The directors are giving themselves
time to make sure they've thought of all of the implications.
water emergency in Manchester. But that could change. And the
proposal anticipates other reasons for water system shutdowns, such as
a terrorist act.
passing a water ordinance but decided it wasn't necessary.
of the Hazardville Water Company thought their aquifer supplies were
and that no action was necessary. The Connecticut Water Company also
the council that its aquifers were adequate. But it serves other towns
as well and might want to draw down its water supplies to keep water
elsewhere. Some council members worried that a water ordinance could
the company that option.
is scheduled to discuss a water conservation ordinance at its June 4
Officials are wisely researching other municipal regulations to tailor
rules that fit East Windsor's needs.
The state often
issues water conservation advisories. But those are voluntary. If towns
have individual regulations they can respond quickly to local water
supplies being replenished, it is easy to think there will be no
But it's better to be prepared.
April 11, 2002 - 5:58:49 AM MST (Connecticut POST)
State mobilizes for growing
By PAM DAWKINS
-- Much of southwestern Connecticut is in the red -- not financially,
in terms of water.
of below-average precipitation have left Connecticut with a rain
and drought watches in Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex
Now, state residents can monitor the drought through a new Web site,
"This is an
unfolding story," said Arthur J. Rocque Jr., commissioner of the state
Department of Environmental Protection, during a Wednesday press
to unveil the site. The DEP and the departments of Public Utility
and Public Health are working together on the live Web site, through
visitors can monitor rainfall, groundwater and river levels, water
and the level of danger from forest fires.
"It's not so
much that we have an immediate crisis on our hands," said DPUC Chairman
Donald W. Downes. But rain in the levels forecast for the immediate
is unlikely to fix the problem, unless the state and municipalities
The state is
calling on consumers to watch their water usage and, according to
as the situation gets closer to the "emergency" level (which comes
advisory, watch and warning levels) mandatory conservation measures
yet at the stage where fines are ready to be imposed," Rocque
According to the DEP, between last July and early April approximately
inches of precipitation has fallen, compared with an average of 34 to
inches. Streams and reservoirs are well below their usual levels and,
of the lack of snow this winter, will not get their normal refill from
month, BHC Co., the Bridgeport-based water provider for more than
people in Greater Bridgeport, New Canaan and Ridgefield, asked its
to cut their water use by 20 percent a day. Usual use for their
is 70 million gallons a day, said spokeswoman Adrienne C.
Its Greater Bridgeport System, Vaughan said, should be at 98.5 percent
capacity at this time of year; it is at 75 percent.
BHC, Bridgeport's rainfall since October is 9.5 inches below
The company has asked local officials for mandatory drought
but, Vaughan said, she believes Stamford and Ridgefield are the only
to do so yet. The warming weather, usually so welcome in
means an increase in water use -- for pools, watering lawns and
cars -- and also an increase in water evaporation rates.
"Then we will
have a water shortage " if we don't get more rainfall, Rocque said.
To stave off
that shortage, the state is partnering with The Home Depot, Lowes and
utilities to promote conservation products and efforts. DPUC
John W. Betkowski III noted Wednesday that "Faucet leaks can waste up
500 gallons a month," and a leaky toilet can use up to 1,000 gallons a
"For very little
cost, they [consumers] can save water," he said in announcing that
products are now available at home improvement stores as well as
Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating's SmartLiving
The state is also beginning door-to-door education campaigns, said DPH
Commissioner Dr. Joxel Garcia.
Of the state's
more than 3 million residents, he said, approximately 2.6 million are
by 95 community water systems; 88,000 get their water from 457 small
systems that each serve less than 1,000 people, and the remaining
get their water from wells.
efforts are under way for 13 of the 95 biggest systems, while 74 of
are asking residents to conserve water voluntarily. Of the smaller
systems, 389 are practicing either mandatory or voluntary conservation
efforts. Residents who get their water from wells need to watch
quality, Garcia said. As levels decline, there could be more sediment
up in drinking water.
If this happens,
Garcia suggests calling in local health departments to test the water
running out to buy filters. "We don't want to be punitive," said
Garcia of the conservation efforts. "This is something that may affect
the economy if we don't take this seriously."
With that possible
impact in mind, Rocque said he is talking to people at the Department
Economic and Community Development, to keep them abreast of what is
For the past few years, Rocque said, businesses have already been
to stop using drinking water for industrial purposes, if possible.
"At this point
in time, we don't see any real dislocations for business," Rocque said.
In Terms Of Water, We're
Still In A Hole; Recent Rains Don't Make Up For 9 Months Of Dry
April 5, 2002
By STEVE GRANT,
Courant Staff Writer
It rained last
week, it rained over the weekend, and it rained Wednesday.
like this, although they are highly beneficial - I hate to use this
- are a drop in the bucket," said Gerald R. Iwan, chief of water
at the state Department of Public Health.
is so far below normal - a deficit of 15 inches over the past nine
- that wells in some locations are nearly as depleted as they were
the historic drought of the 1960s.
the growing season kicks in during coming weeks, and trees and other
lay first claim to much of the precipitation, it will become more
for water supplies to rebound.
rains, reservoirs and wells could be in even worse shape by summer.
of that, state agencies involved in water supply management issued an
this week asking all Connecticut residents to voluntarily conserve
patterns in recent weeks have brought wetter weather, scientists with
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doubt that the rain
be enough to break the drought conditions prevailing in the Eastern
States. "Months of normal-to-above-normal precipitation are necessary
end it," the agency says.
The Courant's weather columnist and chief meteorologist at WTNH-TV,
8, said Thursday that he does not see above-normal precipitation in the
no prospects for that whatsoever," he said. "The best we can hope
is stay up with normal precipitation."
today are far more closely regulated than they were in the 1960s:
have been enhanced in some places and many reservoirs are
to help move water from one area affected more than another. But even
those improvements, agencies involved with drought management say there
could be serious problems if dry weather persists.
Arthur J. Rocque
Jr., commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection,
anticipating potential problems, said his agency already has taken one
unusual conservation step. It waived its requirement that
of water impoundments release a spring freshet flow, a step
taken in late winter or early spring to blow out organic matter
and ensure river health.
us save a little bit of water," Rocque said, and, because even a wild
may not see a freshet flow every year, the effect on stream health
also is considering altering its trout-stocking program. The DEP still
plans to stock all the streams it ordinarily stocks before the fishing
season begins April 20, but it plans to watch water levels closely, and
if some streams become too low once the season begins, they might not
additional fish during the season.
on Mother Nature cooperating and providing some heavier than normal
over the next four or five weeks," said William Hyatt, director of the
agency's inland fisheries division. Streams most vulnerable are those
as the Saugatuck River in Fairfield County that are
Even with the
latest rain, which has perked up most rivers, groundwater supplies
unusually low. And groundwater supplies are a major water source for
during summer months.
a lot of people don't understand is that groundwater and stream water
one system," said Virginia de Lima, chief of the U.S. Geological
Connecticut district office.
Connecticut district maintains a network of indicator wells, which,
to the latest readings, are exceptionally low, some of them with levels
similar to those recorded during the drought of the mid-1960s.
water level of an indicator well in Mansfield, for example, is similar
to the level recorded at this time in 1965, when the state was well
a prolonged drought.
affecting much of the Northeast, is considered the drought of record
the state, of such severity that it is likely to happen only once in
years. It lasted from September 1961 to September 1966 and severely
water supplies in many areas.
Reservoir, one of the main supplies for the Hartford area, fell to an
low of 42 percent of capacity at the end of 1965, compared with its
level of 77 percent. The utility said in 1965 that water supplies were
in "an ever-diminishing state throughout the state."
had been running 12 to 15 inches below normal.
1966, a ban on lawn watering was imposed between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., a
restriction compared to measures taken in New York, parts of
and New Jersey.
changed since then?
has increased over the past 40 years, but supply improvements have been
made, too. And, with better planning, water conservation measures are
even before serious problems develop.
Iwan said there
is sketchy information available regarding the 1960s drought in
largely because there was little overall state management of water
at the time.
responses by state agencies were few and far between," he said. The
supply office at Public Health had "no more than seven or eight
Today it has upward of 50.
of reservoirs has changed comparatively little, but there are many more
groundwater supplies being tapped.
"I would say
that we augmented the supply and improved the supply with additional
wells," Iwan said. Also significant is an improved planning
for utilities, and mechanical improvements that provide flexibility
"We have a
much higher level of technical sophistication and planning in effect
Iwan said. "It doesn't offset the need for the rain, but it allows us
go further into a drought than arguably we were able to do in the
A less severe
drought in 1999 drew attention to problems with the Metropolitan
Commission's delivery system, which has undergone corrective measures
Last year the district, using a device called a "pig," scoured
and deposits from its main distribution line, increasing the carrying
of the line by 8 million gallons a day.
devices, including those for shower heads and toilets, have helped
water. Also, many water utilities today have interconnections with
systems that can be crucial if one system becomes taxed while a
system still has a comfortable supply, Iwan said.
associated with the 1960s drought in much of the East is unlikely to
to any significant degree. In the 1960s, there were few
plants operating, and those that existed were primitive. When streams
low, dilution was reduced, and pollution became an even worse problem
it had been.
plants are ubiquitous and into their third generation of treatment
in many places. Many of these plants have the ability to move to an
higher level of treatment if flows were to drop to dangerously low
Rocque said. At the moment, the agency sees no need for any
in treatment levels, Rocque said.
enacted two decades ago will help in the event of a severe drought,
said. Any diversion from a river must have a permit from the state,
that a business or utility can't just siphon water from a stream
regard to downstream impacts.
you would expect to see in a prolonged drought like we saw in the `60s
are less likely to occur because that law is in place," he said.