The Business Council supports the amended version of this legislation, however we maintain concerns regarding the need for this new regulatory mandate and its potential impact on businesses with direct water withdrawals.
This legislation would establish a major new statewide water withdrawal permitting program within the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for new and existing users. It would authorize DEC to implement a statewide permitting program for all water withdrawals equal to or greater than 100,000 gpd in accordance with the Great Lakes Basin Compact (“Compact”).
There were a number of concerns with the original bill which have been addressed. These include:
- The “grandfathering” of existing water withdrawal capacities;
- Exemptions for water withdrawals made in connection with remedial projects subject to federal or state judicial or administrative orders;
- The applicability of minimum water withdrawal standards to newly constructed, not existing, water withdrawal systems; and
- Requirements that any regulation of quantitative stream flows to be consistent with the policy objectives of Article 15 of the ECL.
We are still concerned that the bill goes beyond the established provisions of the Compact by imposing a regulatory scheme on the entire state that regulates water users with “capacity” to withdraw 100,000 gpd. Under the Compact, water users are regulated when they use more than 100,000 gpd on average over a 30-day period. We would like to have seen the exact Compact standard applied to industrial users under this legislation.
We are also reluctant to support additional statewide regulatory programs at a time when we, along with others in industry and government, have raised alarms about the growth of regulation in the state and its impact on business.
However, in light of the good faith efforts on the part of the Governor’s office and DEC and their willingness to make the appropriate changes to the bill, The Business Council will support S.3798/A.5318-A.
Moreover, The Business Council looks forward to participating in expected water withdrawal stakeholder meetings and to working with DEC as it promulgates the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this bill, once it becomes law, under the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA) process.