Capitol Connection: The Importance of Voicing Concerns – A Wastewater Treatment Update

November 6, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote about a unique situation that sometimes happens in the legislature. A law was changed, and unforeseen repercussions ensued as a result.

In the particular case I discussed, the legislature passed a bill to implement recommendations from the Department of Public Health (DPH). Everything in the bill sounded great. However, one section of the new law made changes to the standards governing “environmental laboratories.” As an indirect result of these changes, local wastewater treatment facilities could have been forced to outsource their water testing – a move that would cost each facility anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 annually. These new financial burdens would end up falling on the backs of wastewater rate payers i.e. you, me and other local residents.

In short, a good law had bad effects because of confusing language. But today, I have good news to share. Thanks to the advocacy of two organizations that represent our state Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCFs), and clarification from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), we have a temporary fix!

In response to concerns raised by two groups: the Connecticut Water Pollution Abatement Association and the Connecticut Association of Water Pollution Control Authorities, DEEP has officially clarified the intent of the law. In a letter, officials explained that local wastewater treatment facilities, with certifications from DEEP, could continue running their own tests. This means they won’t be forced to send their tests to outside laboratories, an expensive task, to run the same tests they are more than capable of doing in house.

This situation is an excellent example of how speaking up and getting your voice heard can make a difference. The WPCFs saw a potential problem in a new law, and they got out in front of it. I applaud them for speaking up, and I hope to support them in the next legislative session by making this temporary fix a permanent one.

Legislation is often multilayered and input from the entire community is an important step in the process of clarifying and protecting state law. Always feel free to share your viewpoint if you have concerns about a law. As a legislator I am here to help make laws, and more importantly, to make sure your voice is a part of the process.