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Connecticut Water refutes criticisms of UConn water plan

September 18, 2013 Business, Letters to Editor, Local News No Comments
Connecticut Water CEO Eric Thornburg was a guest on CTV14s "Town Talk" regarding UConn's future water needs.

Connecticut Water CEO Eric Thornburg was a guest on CTV14’s “Town Talk,” regarding UConn’s future water needs.

Letter to the Editor

Editor’s note: The following is a rebuttal to a Letter to the Editor published by HTNP News on Aug. 8, 2013 by Atty. Halloran, counsel for the Metropolitan District Commission, “UConn water plan is short-sighted.”

Connecticut Water Company is pleased it was chosen by the University of  Connecticut Board of Trustees, following an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE), to bring additional water supply to the university and the Town of Mansfield to serve the community’s long-term water needs.

The comprehensive EIE process undertaken by the town and university clearly demonstrates that the Connecticut Water proposal is the most economically sound, financially responsible option, with the least environmental impact.

As important, the option is deemed to be the most consistent with Connecticut’s state Plan of Conservation and Development.

The parties are now engaged in preparing the necessary agreements and plans to implement this important public-private partnership.

Connecticut Water will continue to serve our customers and easily provide for the projected water supply needs of the university and the Mansfield area.

These needs, estimated to peak at 2.2 million gallons of water per day (mgd) over the next 50 years, will come from our Shenipsit Lake Reservoir, which has a capacity of 5 billion gallons of water, a registered diversion of 15 mgd and an approved safe yield of 10 mgd.  These water supply reserves far exceed the company’s average daily reservoir withdrawal of 4 mgd.

Connecticut Water, unlike the other two surface water options considered (Metropolitan District Commission/MDC and Windham Water Works), can meet the area’s water supply needs and fully comply with the recently enacted streamflow regulations.

Connecticut Water has historically maintained and protected flows in the Hockanum River through downstream releases made from Lake Shenipsit.

These flows will not only be maintained, they will be enhanced under the new flow standards.

The MDC, on the other hand, successfully had their drinking water supply reservoirs exempted from the streamflow requirements put in place across the state.

Connecticut Water is proud to have worked with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and other stakeholders to develop meaningful streamflow regulations that balance public water supply and environmental needs.

We fully support the implementation of those streamflow regulations and are confident they can be met by Connecticut Water at the Shenipsit Lake Reservoir.

Connecticut Water logo 2013We will again be at the table and part of a comprehensive solution should the state decide to pursue a statewide water plan or other water resource protection measures.

We recognize there are other environmental considerations associated with this project as well, and will work collaboratively with key stakeholders throughout the permitting process to ensure environmental issues are addressed and that consistency with the State Plan of Conservation and Development is maintained.

Connecticut Water is well positioned to provide the water necessary to meet the needs identified for the University and the community over the 50 year planning horizon. The EIE considered the projected demands for the University’s Tech Park and the Next Generation initiative, as well as the Town of Mansfield’s plans for redevelopment of the Four Corners, the proposed managed care facility, and other potential development in the community consistent with their local plans.

The analysis also considered the benefits of recycling reclaimed wastewater at the UConn Central Utility Plant that recently went on line.

The projected water demands will certainly not materialize immediately, but when they do Connecticut Water is in the position to fully meet the needs in an environmentally responsive way.

The economic analysis was compelling, with the total cost of the Connecticut Water option at $21 million less than half the costs of construction for either Windham Water Works ($44 million) or the MDC ($51 million) even before considering any financing costs for those alternatives.

Further, Connecticut Water agreed to make the investment in the project so there will be no taxpayer dollars used to construct the pipeline or the system improvements.

As a result, the rates for water service for the University and Mansfield customers will be considerably less with Connecticut Water than they would have been with the MDC option at either their standard rates or the higher rates they would charge the University and Mansfield customers as non-members of MDC.

We are pleased the Board of Trustees and local leaders have confidence in us and are eager to deliver a solution to meet the needs of the area.  We have the expertise and resources to make this happen and our team is already working with the University and the Town on this important project.

We will continue to be open and transparent throughout the process, regularly updating the public and having information posted on our website, Facebook and Twitter.

This is a unique opportunity for a highly visible public private partnership and we are eager to prove that Connecticut Water was the right choice and will provide the most economical, feasible and prudent long-term water supply solution for the University and area towns.

– Eric Thornburg, President and CEO

Connecticut Water Company

Posted September 18, 2013

Editor’s note: The above letter was slightly edited for grammar and clarification (i.e. the names of the other companies considered for the project). To view a recent interview with Connecticut Water concerning UConn/Mansfield projects and water supply, click on this link http://www.ctv14.com and then the Programming tab on that page – choose VOD Archives from the drop-down menu, and on the next page use the drop-down menu on the left (All Folders) to select “Town Talk” at the end of the list. Please note the CT Water website is incorrectly displayed in this video – the correct link is http://www.ctwater.com

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