Mansfield Town Council members passed a motion at their meeting Wednesday night, allowing the mayor to co-sign a letter with the planning and zoning commission chair about proposed exclusive water supply service areas.
The letter will be sent to the central branch of the Central Water Utility Coordinating Committee (WUCC). Mansfield is part of central WUCC.
Also at work on water supply in Connecticut is an eastern WUCC branch, to which Windham belongs, and a western WUCC branch.
WUCC, convened by the Department of Public Health in June 2016, proposed the exclusive service area boundaries. According to WUCC’s draft report of the boundaries, an exclusive service area is a location where a single system supplies public water.
“The purpose of this process is really to determine which water service will be responsible for providing service in the future,” Mansfield director of planning and development Linda Painter said. “We’re trying to avoid disruption and duplication of service in the future.”
Painter said WUCC asked interested parties, such as Connecticut Water Company, Windham Water Works and the University of Connecticut, to state which exclusive service areas they prefer.
“They had all requested exclusive service over the properties they own,” Painter said.
According to town documents, a map of the proposed boundaries shows most of Mansfield would be in the Connecticut Water Company’s exclusive service area. This excepts water systems already in place, such as UConn’s water system; also, southern Mansfield would be under Windham Water Works.
Painter said UConn requested that some of its property not be assigned to a specific exclusive service area.
“UConn agricultural properties in the Spring Hill area would remain unassigned,” Painter said. “The request to remain unassigned came from UConn.”
Councilor Virginia Raymond expressed concerns about WUCC’s project not aligning with the state of Connecticut’s current water planning efforts.
“Why wouldn’t we align these two planning processes?,” Raymond said. “Why can’t these two things be congruent so we can see a single plan instead of two? Piece meal stuff always concerns me.”
The proposed boundaries are not a land use document about future land development, Painter said.
“Applying exclusive service areas doesn’t mean you’re going to have water pipes running down the road and development,” Painter said.
“You say it’s not a development document; I don’t buy it,” Raymond said. “You’re giving exclusive rights for water, and as we all have learned over the past several years, water and sewer are the key for development.”
Councilors passed the motion on the condition that the letter sent to central WUCC incorporates comments the planning and zoning commission, and the town’s conservation committee, made at their respective meetings about the proposed boundaries. The council also specified that the letter note the final maps might include technical corrections to some facilities’ locations.
David Radka, Central WUCC chair, said the Department of Public Health will make the final choices about the exclusive service areas.
“Public comment is open now that WUCC has proposed the exclusive service areas, so you have the opportunity to consider what’s being proposed. WUCC will take those comments into consideration,” Radka said. “(WUCC) can potentially revise the recommendations we’re making, but WUCC does not determine exclusive service areas in and of themselves. The Health Department will see the recommendations and ultimately make the decision.”
Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.