In a 06/26/2023 press release, Governor Ned Lamont announced that his administration has committed $85 million to repair flooding and sewage issues in North Harford. The content of the press release is copied below:
Funding Contributes to a Total $170 Million Investment to Address Flooding in the Neighborhood
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration is committing $85 million in state funding from the state’s Clean Water Fund and Clean Water Fund-related funding to implement a pilot program that will address sewage overflows in streets and basements in North Hartford, where residents have been chronically impacted by the long-term recurrence of sewer overflows.
Administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Clean Water Fund is the mechanism through which the state provides financial assistance to municipalities for projects addressing wastewater needs.
The funds will be applied to 12 projects proposed by the Metropolitan District (MDC) to increase protections from sewer and stormwater-related flooding and backups in North Hartford. The projects are estimated to cost $170 million. In providing this funding, DEEP has confirmed that MDC anticipates the remaining funding for these projects will be covered within the current MDC rate structure, with no impact on current rates. Five projects are slated to begin in 2023, six projects will begin in 2024, and one project will begin in 2025.
“I am glad that we can release this significant state funding to Hartford’s North End, which has been disproportionately impacted by sewer overflows for a long time,” Governor Lamont said. “I’m grateful to DEEP, the Hartford delegation, the MDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the community leaders in Hartford for working together to make progress on this complex but critically important issue.”
“Legacy combined sewer systems threaten both the health of our ecosystems and the vitality of our communities,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “With the acceleration of climate change, more frequent, intense rainstorms are overwhelming sewer systems and causing street flooding, which leads ultimately to sewage backups that are devastating to residents. DEEP is committed to funding innovative pilot projects that will begin to bring relief to the North End and inform our approach to the broader Clean Water Fund program. I thank the members of the North End community for their advocacy on this issue. I look forward to continuing collaboration with community and legislative leaders and our federal partners on additional steps we can take together on climate, clean water, and environmental justice.”
The proposal for these funds includes a novel, private property infrastructure pilot that has potential financial, social, and environmental benefits by addressing privately-owned infrastructure that is connected to the public sewerage system. Of the total $170 million invested toward flood mitigation in North Hartford to date, $73 million is estimated to perform private property infrastructure improvements on over 3,500 properties, with backflow preventers and emergency sewer lateral repairs available, where needed. The Connecticut Office of the Treasurer, the Clean Water Fund manager, has worked with DEEP to secure funding for the pilot private property infrastructure improvements.
As part of its proposal, the MDC has committed to intensifying efforts to hire minority and disadvantaged business enterprises (MBE/DBE) and to work with all of its contractors to increase the use of Hartford labor for the North Hartford sewer flooding mitigation pilot project. DEEP sees significant opportunities to increase MBE/DBE and local labor for the private infrastructure work outlined in the proposal.
DEEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are in the process of coordinating a community forum for North End residents in July to provide information about the initiative and answer questions.
In addition to this $85 million commitment announced today, the biennial state budget that Governor Lamont signed earlier this month creates the Hartford Sewerage System Repair and Improvement Fund, a pilot grant program overseen by the Office of the State Comptroller that will provide support to Hartford residents impacted by flood damage on or after January 1, 2021. The governor will next appoint an administrator to the program, who must be a resident of Hartford with experience in environmental justice issues and insurance. Once the application process is fully developed, eligible Hartford residents will be able to request reimbursement.
EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said, “This is great news for the North Hartford community. I applaud Connecticut’s commitment to address flooding and sewer overflow issues that have gravely impacted its residents for decades. EPA remains steadfast in its commitment to advance environmental justice by working with community members and advocates and DEEP to resolve these issues. I look forward to continuing to work together to address this pressing concern that has affected this overburdened community.”
Comptroller Sean Scanlon said, “As our cities age and our climate changes, we must improve our infrastructure to meet our rapidly-changing needs, especially in historically under-served areas. Today’s announcement is a historic step in that direction, and by overseeing this pilot program, I’m proud to help provide immediate relief to Hartford residents who have been impacted by flooding and who may have their homes impacted in the future.”
Treasurer Erick Russell said, “I’m relieved that help is on the way for North End residents and businesses, and grateful for the creative and collaborative problem-solving that led to this solution. It’s our responsibility, and in our collective best interest, to ensure that everyone in our state has access to clean water and safety from environmental dangers. This is a necessary and worthy use of the Clean Water Fund and I’m glad my office, and our talented and expert staff, could be part of identifying and securing this funding.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “Flooding and sewage backup in Hartford’s North End is not only a wastewater infrastructure issue – it is an environmental justice issue and a fairness issue. Addressing this problem requires a combination of both short and long-term solutions and a continued partnership between elected officials, community members, and our state and federal agencies. I am proud to see the first step in a series of actions to provide reimbursement and repairs to North End residents and will commit action at the federal level to continue to implement improvements.”
Mayor Luke Bronin said, “This investment in the stormwater and sewer infrastructure will make a big difference for residents and businesses in North Hartford. This package includes funds to reimburse residents and small business owners who suffer damage from flooding, and it includes funding to make improvements in the ancient infrastructure that’s just not able to handle the kind of storms we routinely see today. I’m grateful to Speaker Ritter, Governor Lamont, our Hartford delegation, the MDC, and above all to the activists and residents who spoke up and made this happen.”
State Senator Doug McCrory (D-Hartford) said, “After several years of meetings with residents, businesses, and city and state officials, my colleagues and I were able to secure funding to address flooding issues in Hartford. Homeowners affected by flooding will finally get assistance to repair their property and improve their environment.”
House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said, “This is a major victory for residents of Hartford’s North End who have lived with flooded basements and sewage backups for years. Our goal was to get residents immediate relief as well as have a long-term plan to improve Hartford’s infrastructure. The Hartford legislative delegation was able to work with residents, advocates, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, and Governor Lamont to come up with significant funding.”
State Representative Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford) said, “Flooding is a major concern wherever it happens because of the long-term prohibitively expensive damage it could do, the negative health effects, and the lives that are turned upside-down as a result. I therefore join my colleagues in thanking Governor Lamont for his support of this important funding.”
State Representative Julio Concepcion (D-Hartford) said, “I am grateful to see we are going to make progress on addressing this quality-of-life issue that has affected so many families in the North End for some time. I thank Governor Lamont for prioritizing this funding and look forward to seeing it be put to great use for our residents.”
State Representative Maryam Khan (D-Hartford, South Windsor, Windsor) said, “I am incredibly proud to see the flooding issues in the North End get the attention it truly deserves. This result is the culmination of months of work by many parties, including DEEP, MDC, the City of Hartford, and the residents that spoke up in community meetings. I’m grateful we were able to work collaboratively and effectively to come to an agreement that invests and prioritizes in the wellbeing of residents, and shows that we are truly committed to their needs.”
State Representative James Sánchez (D-Hartford, West Hartford) said, “I’m proud to have been a part of the negotiations to help address serious flooding issues in Hartford. For years, the Blue Hills neighborhood in the city’s North End has suffered from sanitary backups and chronic flooding. I fully support these funds, which are a significant step toward finding solutions to help so many of our residents who need help. Hartford’s antiquated combined sewer and storm system is no longer able to handle today’s heavy rain events that are fueled by climate change. This funding will help assess, identify, and correct the problem of laterals to suspect homes and the infrastructure attached. I thank Governor Ned Lamont, Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, and our entire Hartford delegation for their tireless work to tackle this issue head-on.”
State Representative Joshua Hall (D-Hartford) said, “The funding is appreciated and very necessary to help north-end residents and businesses who have endured this problem for far too long. I want to thank the residents of the North End of Hartford for raising their voices to ensure equity for our community. I also want to thank Governor Lamont, Speaker Ritter, Senator McCrory, and the entire Hartford delegation for helping find a solution to this problem.”
Scott Jellison, CEO of the MDC, said, “This partnership and logic developed between the MDC, DEEP, EPA, and the City of Hartford to address sewerage overflows by removing stormwater at its source, rather than collecting the sewerage overflows at the river is the solution which will prove to be most beneficial to the community and more effective in eliminating sewerage backups into residents’ homes, businesses, and the rivers. MDC cannot solve the ever-changing severe rain events caused by climate change, however with this partnership, Harford Region can mitigate the impacts by setting the standard and acknowledging its impacts to the sewer system. MDC has committed to and will begin separation work in North Hartford by this July 2023. MDC is confident, removing stormwater first from the sewer system, rather than collecting the overflows in which it causes, will become the model and standard for other CSO communities across the country.”
Sharon Lewis, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Economic and Environmental Justice, said, “This funding announcement represents more than just financial support. It is a transformative leap towards environmental justice, reflecting a commitment to rectify systemic financial and environmental inequities that have plagued our community for decades and ultimately helping Hartford residents become better equipped to face the evolving impacts of climate change. However, the key to true justice is in the administration of these programs. Those impacted need not be further traumatized by the system. The administration of these funds can serve as a model of justice by upholding the principles of fairness, compassion, and efficiency. It will demonstrate a commitment to supporting those in need, fostering community resilience, and promoting a sense of trust.”
Source Credit: State of Connecticut, Gov Ned Lamont Press Release dated 06/26/2023.