August 24, 2016: The Council of Environmental Quality met on August 24, 2016, with representatives from Lenard Engineering and the City of New Britain. Members of the public, including members of Protect Our Watershed CT, were also present and spoke. The upshot was that New Britain may have to renegotiate its $337,000 contract with Lenard Engineering, as the Council of Environmental Quality expects a more comprehensive environmental study with a longer time frame than the 17 weeks originally proposed...
August 12, 2016: The Water Planning Council (WPC) met and decided not to rescind New Britain’s approval of proposed consultants, Lenard Engineering Inc. (LEI). The WPC did not require New Britain to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) whereby there is a blind selection of teams most qualified and most cost effective. Unfortunately, LEI is New Britain's go-to firm so it would be difficult for the study to be independent or unbiased. However, the WPC broadened the proposed scope of study. Numerous citizens spoke against the Deal and against the hiring of a biased consultant to perform environmental studies with a close relationship to both New Britain and Tilcon.
POWCT agrees with and defines“independent environmental study" according to Richard Blumenthal's description during the 2007 assessment of this same deal.
"If an environmental evaluator is selected by entities who stand to benefit financially from an evaluation, the independence of the evaluator is compromised. Because a land lease would financially benefit both the city of New Britain and Tilcon, neither entity can be involved in the selection of an 'independent' third party evaluator.
... We also conclude that the evaluator cannot be selected by parties who have a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the evaluation. The Department of Public Health must select the independent evaluator in accordance with state contracting procedures"
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, ATTORNEY GENERAL, December 19, 2007
August 10: City of New Britain Council Members vote to sell the clean water source, Patton Brook Well for $1M, a price seen as a give-away to Southington. Could this be to gain Southington’s support for the Tilcon quarry expansion Deal?
July 28: New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart writes a letter to the Water Planning Council protesting the Council of Environmental Quality's withdrawal of support for Lenard Engineering Inc, as a biased entity.
July 27: Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Meeting: Discussion of New Britain’s inappropriate, biased, and unreported selection of Lenard Engineering Inc. prior to the city’s submission of prospective consultants to do the study required by PA-16-6. The CEQ voted to rescind its approval and also voted to urge the Water Planning Council to recommend that New Britain send out an RFP to attract independent and qualified environmental researchers to conduct the study.
June 24: According to Mayor Stewart's July 28 letter, New Britain enters a contract with Lenard Engineering Inc. - prior to receiving written approval from the Water Planning Council.
June 23: Council on Environmental Quality and Water Planning Council call a meeting with one day’s notice. Citizens attend and speak out against the deal. The WPC indicates that the four companies submitted by New Britain in their June 15, 2016 letter were acceptable to perform the environmental study. The Water Planning Council is not aware that the City of New Britain had already hired Lenard Engineering Inc.
June 22: The Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) meets and states they do not object to any of the prospective consultants New Britain listed in its letter and conveys that decision to the WPC.
June 20: Gil Bligh, City of New Britain Director of Water, emails the Council of Environmental Quality stating that Lenard Engineering Inc. will lead the consulting team that includes the following sub-consultants to do the specific categories of research required by the statute: Leggette, Brashears, Graham Environmental Planning Services, and Tighe & Bond
June 17: Lenard Engineering’s James Ericson, sends a Proposal Letter to the New Britain Water Department, along with an 11-page Scope-of-Study. This proposal is worded as an add-on to past studies already performed by Lenard Engineering and reads more like a quarry feasibility study than an environmental assessment.
June 15: Due to a conflict of interest, Mayor Stewart writes letter to the Water Planning Council (WPC), withdrawing CDM Smith from consideration as a firm to conduct the environmental study. The mayor’s letter lists 4 separate companies as alternate potential candidates to lead the environmental study: Lenard Engineering, Leggette, Brashears, and Graham, Arcadis, Woodard & Curran
May 26: Governor Malloy signed Bill 300, now amended to Act 16-61. Here is what changed:
· Instead of "commission & supervise" the first line just says "commission"--This change lets the commissions off the hook for a critical role
· Instead of "approved by" Department of Public Health "and" Council on Environmental Quality, it says "acceptable to" Water Planning Council "in consultation with" Council on Environmental Quality.
· Added "natural land resources & formations" into what needs to be studied
· Added back in "reasonably feasibly interconnected water companies" (from 2007 wording)
· Added "permits required" for such change in land use
· Removed that 3rd party doing study has to write "a summary conclusion comparing the environmental impacts as well as the potential environmental benefits and water supply benefits from such a change in use."
· Removed the part about "offsets attributed to" the open space donated land
· Added that CEQ & WPC have to determine impact on "environment," as well as on water supplies
· Added public meeting in New Britain & public could submit comments, etc.
· Added that results had to be reported to committees of General Assembly related to environment (not just committees related public health)
May 02: House needed 72 votes to pass, and got 73 at last minute, SB 300 becomes Public Act 16-61.https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/VOTE/h/2016HV-00231-R00SB00300-HV.htmCT Mirror News Article: http://ctmirror.org/2016/05/03/new-britain-water-bill-passes-with-a-little-help-in-the-house/
April 29: Senate members vote to pass the Bill. https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/VOTE/s/2016SV-00242-R00SB00300-SV.htm
April 28: Revised Bill 300 is amended according to Amendment 5095 https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/amd/S/pdf/2016SB-00300-R00SA-AMD.pdf WPC replaces DPH in overseeing the selection process. The DPH & DEEP were to oversee the study required by the 2007 statute, which was eventually withdrawn. No environmental study was done in 2007.
March 21: Public Health Committee revises the language of Raised Bill 300 with its submission of Substitute Bill 300: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/TOB/s/pdf/2016SB-00300-R01-SB.pdf. It’s wording is nearly identical to that of the 2007 environmental study tacked onto the 2007 bill.
March 07: A Public Hearing on Raised Bill 300 was held at the Capitol. Citizens speak out against the deal. The only speakers in favor are Tilcon executives, municipal leaders of New Britain, Plainville, & Southington, and a spokesperson for Local 478 Intl. Union of Operating Engineers who represent Tilcon employees. CT Gen. Assembly report on the testimony: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CommDocTmyBillAllComm.asp?bill=SB-00300&doc_year=2016
February 19: The original language of Senator Gerratana’s drafts Raised Bill 300 would have enabled the Tilcon proposal to go forward subsequent to passage by the CT General Assembly: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/TOB/s/pdf/2016SB-00300-R00-SB.pdf
February 18, Thursday: Mayor Erin Stewart asks Sen. Gerratana to raise a bill to do an environmental impact study. The deadline to introduce possible new legislation is the end of the day February 19, 2016 http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-new-britain-reservoir-0219-20160218-story.html:
February 17, Wednesday: A Public meeting held at Lincoln School, New Britain. Mayor Erin Stewart, Gil Bligh the Water Department Director, and Tilcon President Gary Wall present the plan. The benefits described are a new reservoir to expand the city’s future supply of water, as well as open space benefits to New Britain, Southington, and Plainville. Terry Gerratana, Senate Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee on Public Health explains that the plan will entail legislation to substantiate a permit from the State Department of Public Health. At least 60 New Britain and Plainville residents are present to express concerns. Covered by the NB Herald: http://www.centralctcommunications.com/newbritainherald/article_20f76ee8-d5e7-11e5-b23e-bb2fddd99b5f.html
February 13, 2016, a Saturday: Mayor Erin Stewart has letters delivered into the mailboxes of residents near the Tilcon quarry about a “great new reservoir plan” announcing a public meeting for Wednesday, February 17, 2016.