PA 08-137—sHB 5730

Public Health Committee

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

SUMMARY: This act:

1. modifies the Department of Public Health's (DPH) review and approval process concerning proposals for new water supplies;

2. specifies which town is responsible for paying relocation assistance to people who have been displaced due to enforcement actions by district departments of health;

3. expands the potential disciplinary actions DPH can take against department-licensed or -certified people or entities who engage in actions harmful to property owners;

4. requires installers of irrigation systems or other physical connections between public water supply distribution systems and other water systems to notify the water company of the installation, authorizes local health directors to order mitigation measures if such connections create an unreasonable risk of injury to health and safety, and requires DPH to adopt regulations on irrigation systems and other physical connections; and

5. establishes a penalty for prohibited aircraft-related activities on reservoirs and amends the penalties for other violations concerning improper activities on public water supplies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008, except for the relocation assistance provision, which is effective upon passage.

DPH REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF PROPOSED NEW WATER SOURCES

Existing law prohibits the construction or expansion of a water supply system owned or used by a water company or the use of a new additional water supply source until plans for them have been submitted to and approved by DPH. No prior review or approval is required for distribution water main installations if they are constructed according to sound engineering standards and all applicable laws and regulations. In reviewing any proposed new water supply source, DPH must consider its anticipated effect on nearby water supply systems, including public and private wells. The law also requires DPH to consult with and advise the water company concerning proposed water supply services and methods to assure their purity and adequacy.

The act expressly requires the submitted plan to include documentation that provides for (1) a brief description of the proposal's potential effects on nearby water supply systems, including public and private wells and (2) the water company's ownership or control of the proposed new water supply source's sanitary radius and minimum setback requirements as specified in state regulations and that such ownership or control will continue to be maintained as specified in regulation.

Under the act, DPH must require the water company proposing the new source to provide additional documentation that adequately demonstrates alternative methods it will use to assure the new supply source's long-term purity and adequacy if DPH determines, based on the initial required documentation, that the water company does not own or control the proposed new source's sanitary radius or minimum setback requirements. The act directs DPH, when reviewing the proposed new water supply sources, to consider these issues.

Under the act, DPH can adopt regulations to carry out these provisions and a provision of existing law requiring water companies to annually report electronically to DPH on the number and location of all new distribution water main installations.

The act eliminates the requirement that DPH consult with and advise water companies on proposed water supply sources and methods to assure their purity and adequacy.

RELOCATION ASSISTANCE

Under the act, if a district health department order causes an occupant's displacement from a dwelling unit, the municipality in which the dwelling is located is responsible for any relocation assistance to the occupant available under the law. (Generally, such an order occurs when a hazard, nuisance, or source of filth injurious to the public health is identified. )

By law, towns, cities, and boroughs may form district health departments by vote of their respective legislative bodies, or join an existing district department with the approval of its board. District health departments are instrumentalities of their constituent municipalities.

The act requires the district health department to give written notification to the occupant of his or her rights under the law when it issues the displacement order. The notice must include the name, address, and telephone number of the person authorized by the municipality to process applications for relocation assistance provided under the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (URAA).

The URAA establishes uniform policies for people who are displaced from their dwellings or businesses by state or local government activities and actions.

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS AND OTHER CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS AND OTHER WATER SYSTEMS

The act requires anyone installing an irrigation system or other physical connection between the distribution system of a public water supply system and any other water system to notify the water company that services the property or building of the installation. The installer is subject to all rules and regulations of that water company.

The act specifies that in this context, “water company” means any individual 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. If the individual or entity owns or controls 80% of the equity value of more than one such system or company, the number of consumers or people the system supplies must be considered as owned by one company.

Under the act, when a permit application is filed with a local building inspector concerning a project, including a change of use or installation of fixtures or facilities in a building that may affect the performance of, or require the installation of, a reduced pressure backflow preventer, a double valve assembly, or a pressure vacuum breaker, the inspector must give written notice of the application to the water company serving the building. He or she must do so within seven days of the application's filing.

After receiving notice, the water company must have an evaluation of cross-connection protection done by a qualified person. The water company must notify the local building inspector of its determination. The act prohibits the inspector from issuing a permit or certificate of occupancy until any cross-connection issue is corrected.

The act authorizes a local director of health to issue an order requiring the immediate implementation of mitigation measures when he or she determines that an automatic fire extinguishing system, irrigation system, change of use, installation of fixtures or facilities in a building, or other physical connection between the public water supply distribution system and any other water system causes an unreasonable injury risk to the health or safety of those using the water, to the general public, or to any public water supply. The mitigation measures can include disconnecting the system. If a cross-connection with the public water system is found, the owner of the system may terminate services to the premises.

The act requires the DPH commissioner to adopt regulations establishing standards to prevent contamination of public water supplies that may result from the installation of irrigation systems or other physical connections between a public water supply distribution system and any other water system in any building served by the public water system. The law already required DPH to adopt regulations establishing such standards for the installation of automatic fire extinguishing systems.

DPH AUTHORITY TO ORDER RESTITUTION TO PROPERTY OWNERS

The act authorities DPH to order certain DPH-licensed individuals and entities to make restitution to an injured property owner based on a finding of good cause. This applies to subsurface sewage disposal installers or cleaners, asbestos contractors, asbestos consultants, asbestos abatement workers, asbestos abatement site supervisors, lead abatement contractors or lead consultant contractors, lead consultants, lead abatement supervisors, and lead abatement workers.

PENALTIES FOR PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES INVOLVING PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES

The act changes, from a minimum of $100 to a maximum $500, the fine that can be imposed on a person who (1) bathes or swims in any public water supply, (2) washes or allows animals in a water supply, (3) causes or allows pollution to enter a public water supply reservoir, or (4) commits any nuisance in a public water supply reservoir or its watershed. The existing possible penalty of 30 days' imprisonment remains unchanged.

Existing law prohibits anyone from causing or allowing an aircraft to land on; take off from; or be operated, kept parked, or stored on any distribution or storage reservoir or on any watercourse tributary to a reservoir. The act establishes a penalty of a maximum fine of $500, imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both. Any water company harmed by such an aircraft violation can bring a civil action in Superior Court for the judicial district where the reservoir or watercourse tributary is located, entirely or in part, to recover damages, expenses, and costs.

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