PA 09-220—sHB 6539

Public Health Committee

Energy and Technology Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

SUMMARY: This act requires exclusive service area providers (ESAPs) to confirm in writing that they (1) have received the applications for public water supply certificates of need and public convenience submitted to the Public Health (DPH) and Public Utility Control (DPUC) departments and (2) are prepared to assume responsibility for the system. It requires the departments, when deciding whether to issue a certificate, to consider whether the system's owner has the financial, managerial, and technical resources to operate it efficiently and reliably and provide continuous, adequate service to consumers.

It requires water company supply plans to include a brief summary of the company's underground infrastructure replacement practices. It lengthens, to between six and nine years from between three to five years, the time between required plan revisions, in most cases.

The act extends the time for DPH to establish and define discharge categories for certain alternative on-site sewage treatment systems.

Finally, it updates DPH's responsibilities concerning safe levels of radon and amends the duties of school boards concerning radon inspection and evaluation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

CERTIFICATES OF NEED AND PUBLIC NECESSITY

By law, anyone who owns, operates, maintains, or manages a water system that supplies 15 or more service connections or 25 or more people for at least 60 days a year is a water company. This definition can apply to residential communities, professional offices, and youth camps, for example, as well as municipal water utilities. Any water company that wants to construct or expand a water supply system that serves 25 or more residents must obtain a certificate of need and public necessity from the DPH and DPUC. Once a system is constructed, the ESAP must own and operate it.

Under prior law, a water company's application for a certificate had to include its plans and its agreement with the ESAP detailing the terms and conditions for the construction or expansion. The act specifies that this is necessary only when an ESAP has been determined. It also requires that, when an ESAP has been determined, the applicant submit its signed ownership agreement with the ESAP.

The act also requires ESAPs to confirm in writing that they (1) have received the applications for public water supply certificates of public convenience and necessity submitted to the DPH and DPUC and (2) are prepared to assume responsibility for the system subject to the terms and conditions of the ownership agreement. The ESAP's written confirmation must be on forms prescribed by the departments.

Finally, it requires the departments, when deciding whether to issue a certificate, to consider whether the person that will own the system (the ESAP or the water company, if no ESAP is determined) has the financial, managerial, and technical resources to operate the system efficiently and reliably and provide continuous, adequate service to the system's consumers. The same requirement already applies to applicants for certificates of need and public necessity for systems serving 25 or more people, but not 25 or more residents.

WATER SUPPLY PLAN REVISIONS

By law, water companies supplying water to 1,000 or more people or 250 or more consumers (and any other water companies at DPH's request) must file a water supply plan that, among other elements, analyzes future needs, assesses alternative supply sources, recommends new system development, and evaluates water source protection. The act adds a new element that plans must include: a brief summary of the company's underground infrastructure replacement practices. These may include current and future infrastructure needs, methods for identifying and ranking rehabilitation and replacement projects, and funding needs.

Once approved, prior law required these plans to be revised every three to five years or as DPH or the water company determined. The act instead requires a revision every six to nine years after the date of the most recently approved plan. But, if a water company fails to meet public drinking water supply and quantity obligations, it must file plan revisions six years after the date of the most recently approved plan, unless DPH requests otherwise. Beginning October 1, 2009, the act requires that, upon approval of a water supply plan, any subsequent revisions must at least have updates to the elements described above that have changed since the date of the most recently approved plan, unless DPH has not otherwise requested an entire water supply plan submission.

ALTERNATIVE ON-SITE SEWAGE SYSTEMS

The law required the DPH commissioner, by December 31, 2008, to establish and define discharge categories for alternative on-site sewage treatment systems that have a daily capacity of 5,000 gallons or less. The law gave the DPH commissioner jurisdiction over these systems once he had done so and required him to establish minimum requirements for the systems. The act extends the time for the commissioner to establish and define these discharge categories by removing the deadline.

RADON

Prior law required DPH to adopt regulations establishing safe levels of radon in potable water. The act instead requires DPH to adopt regulations concerning radon in drinking water consistent with federal drinking water regulations.

The law required DPH to adopt regulations establishing acceptable levels of radon in ambient air and drinking water in schools. The act instead requires DPH to adopt regulations establishing radon measurement requirements and procedures for evaluating radon in indoor air and reducing elevated radon gas levels when detected in public schools.

Before January 1, 2008, and every five years afterward, the law required local and regional boards of education to provide for a uniform inspection and evaluation program for the indoor air quality for every school building constructed, extended, renovated, or replaced on or after January 1, 2003. Among other things, the program had to include a review, inspection, or evaluation of radon levels in the air and water. Under the act, only radon levels in the air must be inspected and evaluated.

BACKGROUND

Designating ESAPs

Water Utility Control Committees convened by DPH designate exclusive service areas, which are the approved by the DPH commissioner. An exclusive service area is an area where public water is supplied by one system. Currently, four committees have been convened covering about 110 towns, mostly in central and southeastern portions of the state and the Housatonic region.

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