Connecticut River Conservancy Testimony in SUPPORT of SB-966 an act concerning the Metropolitan District of Hartford County.
To: Honored Co-chairs, Senator Cassano and Representative McCarthy Vahey, and distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee
I am writing on behalf of the Connecticut River Conservancy; we are an environmental nonprofit dedicated to protecting the entire Connecticut River Valley through initiatives that support clean waters, healthy habitats and thriving communities. I am writing in support of SB–966 an act concerning the Metropolitan District of Hartford County.
The Metropolitan District (MDC) plays a critical role in protecting the health of the Connecticut River through its efforts to steward and sustainably manage water resources in the Hartford area. Residents and the ecological communities in Hartford County, as well as those downriver, depend the MDC to carry out its mission to provide customers with safe drinking water and environmentally protective wastewater collection and treatment.
Last year, we opposed the MDC volume-based discounted water and Clean Water Project rates for large users, which we viewed as a blatantly prioritization of the interests of large corporations over Connecticut citizens in MDC member towns. Despite overwhelming opposition to this deal, MDC went ahead and provided the discount to Niagra Bottling at the expense of ratepayers. While cutting this deal with Niagara Bottling, MDC continues to cite financial constraints as a reason to delay implementation of the Clean Water Project, which is essential to supporting the health of our water resources. Clearly, there is a need for greater transparency and insight as to how MDC operates and uses its resources.
The health of the Connecticut River and all those who live in and enjoy its waters depends on an accountable and efficient MDC. By requiring annual audits, establishing a task force to examine the organization and the required adoption of a code of ethics by the MDC, we believe SB-966 increases credibility of MDC and trust between the MDC and the public. Finally, we ask the committee to consider a modification to the bill that would prohibit or limit the MDC board members from sitting on the task force as a representative of a municipality. This would introduce a conflict of interest as the taskforce seeks to examine the organization. Again, we urge you to vote yes on SB-966 for a more accountable and transparent MDC.
Thank you for your consideration. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-704-0057.