There have always been water wars in western states like California, but the battle over access to water is now heating up in Connecticut. About 150 people packed into a public hearing Thursday on a proposal from the Department of Environmental Regulation to change stream flow regulations. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports
There were fly fishermen and golf course managers. River advocates and water company executives. All anxious to weigh in on how river and stream water will be shared in the future. The DEP’s proposed regulations would change how much water would flow in rivers and streams at different times of the year. The goal is to make sure there’s enough for people and fish, industry and agriculture. State Representative Mary Mushinsky, who is also part of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association says she supports most of the proposal. But Mushinsky is opposed to a provision that establishes a new category of rivers, set by the DEP. That, she says, would essentially discard them:
“It's for rivers that have been so urbanized and previously stressed that they don’t have an environmental goal to restore those. They just put them in that category and forget about them. I don’t think the legislature intended there to be a throw away category.”
Elizabeth Gara of the Connecticut Water Works Association is opposed to the regulations. She says the expense of modifying dams and distribution systems will increase the cost of water. And will result in water supply shortages in some communities.
“That means that some of these systems will not be able to meet the existing needs of their customers and they certainly won’t be able to add any new customers.”
The Department of Environmental Protection is asking the public to submit written comments on the new stream flow standards by February 4th.
For WNPR I’m Nancy Cohen.