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Greenridge Hearing Postponed To Allow Water System Planning



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Greenridge Hearing Postponed To Allow Water System Planning

By Andrew Gorosko

NEW BRITAIN — At the request of the Town of Brookfield, the state Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) has postponed a planned public hearing on a proposal to provide the Greenridge residential subdivision in Brookfield with a safe drinking water supply originating in Brookfield.

DPUC spokesman Philip Dukes said on September 29 that a joint hearing of the DPUC and the state Department of Public Health (DPH), which had been scheduled for October 6, would instead be held December 14 at the DPUC offices in New Britain.

Brookfield had requested a postponement of the public hearing to allow it to better formulate a Greenridge water supply proposal, under which a water supply line would be extended to Greenridge from a water source within Brookfield, rather than having United Water extend its Newtown water supply to Greenridge.

The planned extension of United Water’s Newtown water supply to Greenridge has proven controversial among Town of Newtown and Borough of Newtown officials who question the wisdom of such a project, asking whether extending the Newtown water supply into Brookfield would compromise Newtown’s future water supply needs.

United Water representatives, however, have stressed that the Newtown water supply holds adequate water for a water system extension to Greenridge, and have urged DPUC and DPH to give the water extension project a final approval.

George Benson, Newtown director of planning and land use, on September 29 supported the DPUC/DPH public hearing being postponed to December 14, saying that the postponement would provide Brookfield with time for water system planning.

Providing safe water to Greenridge should be thoroughly reviewed by state regulators, he said.  

In Hawleyville last May, United Water started construction work on extending the Newtown water supply to Greenridge. That work was halted after Newtown officials protested to state utility regulators. Since then, three public hearings have been held on the matter.

United Water draws its Newtown water supply from wells drilled into the Pootatuck Aquifer along South Main Street, just north of Sand Hill Plaza. The Pootatuck Aquifer is Newtown’s sole source aquifer.

In an August letter to state public utility regulators, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal urged that they consider all possible alternatives for providing the residents of the Greenridge with a safe public water supply before selecting any particular solution for the 230-home development off Whisconier Road (Route 25).

Mr Blumenthal’s comments came in response to Newtown officials’ concerns that United Water’s $3.9 million plan to extend its Newtown public water supply system to Brookfield could potentially compromise the reserve capacity of the Newtown public water supply system.

Mr Blumenthal urged that DPUC and DPH reconsider their past endorsement of United Water’s extending its Newtown water supply system via Hawleyville Road (Route 25) to Greenridge. That project would include extending a buried 12-inch-diameter water pipe beneath Route 25 from the intersection of Mt Pleasant Road and Hawleyville Road to Greenridge.

In January 2008, DPUC and DPH had ordered United Water to provide safe drinking water to Greenridge to resolve longstanding problems with tainted water. The water supply system there is fed by wells contaminated with naturally occurring uranium and other radioactive substances. Drinking such tainted water is considered harmful. About 700 people live in Greenridge, a small part of which lies in Newtown.

 Letter Highlights

In a September 21 letter to the DPUC, attorney Robert S. Golden, Jr, representing the Town of Brookfield, requested a 60-day postponement of the October 6 public hearing.

Mr Golden requested the extension “in order for the town [of Brookfield] to more fully develop its proposal to develop extending a water main from the new Silvermine water main in Brookfield to serve the homes in Greenridge and other potential customers along Whisconier Road.”

The complexities of formulating plans for such a water line extension require a time extension, the lawyer explained.

“Since the last hearing on August 24 … the town has been vigorously exploring the development of adequate water sources, and testing at multiple sites is underway or planned to start soon … Preliminary engineering and design work needs to be further developed … The town is assessing the regulatory approvals that may be needed for the plan to come to fruition,” Mr Golden wrote.

“It is in the public interest to have as complete a public record as possible to evaluate the town’s proposal,” he added.

The time extension would allow Brookfield to develop information on the adequacy of a water source for Greenridge, coordinate the proposal with the region’s water utility coordinating committee, perform water system design work, and develop potential financing for construction, according to Mr Golden.

In the letter, Mr Golden stated that a time extension is supported by the state Office of Consumer Counsel, the Town of Newtown, and the Borough of Newtown, but not by United Water.

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