In 1967, after a particularly severe drought, the legislature determined that the state needed a comprehensive water plan.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would commit the state to finally establishing such a policy.
“Once this plan is in place, Connecticut will have a sustainable water resource and will be able to advertise ourselves as a state with a water plan, making [the state] attractive to economic development and residents,” said Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford.
“I hope that we will not miss this opportunity. We’ve waited 47 years for a water plan; this is our chance to finally get one.”
House Bill 5424 requires the Water Planning Council to submit a plan to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2018.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy applauded the House for passing the measure. “As responsible leaders, we must be smart stewards and plan ahead to preserve water for future generations while we have the luxury of its abundance,” he said. “By taking on the task of developing a statewide strategic water plan now, we can reduce climate change uncertainty, plan effectively for future demand and maintain water as an asset. If we want sustainable development, than we must make sure it is in harmony with the available water resources.”
While Connecticut has been spared the extreme droughts that plague many Western states, it has experienced sporadic water shortages. Ambitious growth plans at the University of Connecticut, for instance, have resulted in a sharp increase in demand. It was UConn’s need for more water that prompted Rep. John Hampton, D-Simsbury, to organize a “water summit” last fall.
“The importance of getting this done in the short term will put us in good stead should we ever have the kind of crises that these other states have faced,” said Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport. A clearly defined water plan will “put Connecticut on the path to determining our own future,” Steinberg added.
Eric W. Thornburg, president and CEO of Connecticut Water, which serves 56 Connecticut towns, commended the bill’s passage.
The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Malloy said he looks forward to signing the measure.