Until the 1995 Charter Revision, the Waterford Utility Commission (WUC) was called the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA). It still retains all of the responsibilities of a WPCA but it was expected in the mid nineteen nineties that the WUC would also get into electrical power distribution along with its responsibilities for water and sewers. Studies conducted during and after electrical deregulation determined that it was not cost effective for the WUC to be a power aggregator for Waterford citizens or the town. The name has remained in case that ever becomes a possibility in the future. Most of the current duties are responsibilities of the WUC remain in the water and sewer areas.
The Charter entry is short. The WUC will act as the WPCA for Waterford with powers and duties described in State Statutes Chapter 103, other applicable statutes and any other authority granted by Town ordinances.
The Code of Ordinances starts by repeating the charter entry noted above and the states that the WUC will plan and direct the development, financing, construction, and operation of water and sewer supply, disposal, and distribution facilities as required to service the town. The WUC is given the authority to request and expend appropriated funds of the Town, to levy charges for installation and services, to acquire and control property, to contract for services and material, and to employ personnel provided authority for the position has been approved by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). The WUC is charged with cooperating with and obtaining the outside assistance, as necessary, from federal and state agencies concerned with public water and sewage problems.
The WUC is empowered to establish and collect all charges related to the construction and use of the sewer system. The charges established must be approved by the RTM. The ordinances then go into detail as to when and who should connect to the sewer system and what costs, such as installation and connection, are to be assumed by the property owner rather than the WUC or the Town. There is also detail on what is not permitted in the sewer system, such as swimming pool water, sump pump discharges, storm water, roof runoff, etc. There are other violations too numerous to list in this column. If a property owner is given a notice of violation by the WUC staff, the owner may appeal the violation to the WUC for resolution. Errors in billing may also be appealed to the WUC for resolution.
The WUC is empowered to enter into agreements with the city of New London for Water service and to maintain water piping in Waterford. No one in Waterford is permitted to tap into the water lines without the permission of the WUC.
The WUC is responsible for establishing the minimum requirements for private fire hydrants as outlined in the ordinances.
The Chief Engineer of the WUC is a member of the Information Technology Committee.
The Conservation Commission is directed to work in coordination with the WUC regarding water resources in town. Any proposals submitted to the WUC relating to coastal property must be referred to the Harbor Management Commission for comment prior to final resolution by the WUC.
State Statutes permit towns to establish Water Pollution Control Authorities (WPCA) as a separate commission or as a responsibility of the legislative body or some other board or commission. The WPCA may create or update a Water Pollution Control Plan for the area of its authority. The plan should outline the areas for sewers, areas where private companies have built sewers and areas where sewers will be avoided. The Authority must also manage or insure proper management of any community sewer system. If there is a request from a property owner to be included in a sewer system, the WPCA has sixty five days to rule on the request. If a private sewer system is not managed properly, state statute permits the WPCA to seize control of the system and insure it is managed effectively.
The statutes further outline the authority of a WPCA to administer and maintain a sewer system and manage the funds to run the system independent of normal town funding (The WUC Enterprise Fund). The statutes authorize the municipality to issue bonds and otherwise finance the repair and maintenance of the sewer system. The WPCA may set rates for connection and use of the sewer system. There are special rates for seniors and other protected classifications.
Any application for sewer hookup or service for a property on the coast line must also be sent to the Harbor Management Commission for review.
Certain permits that are normally issued by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) may be delegated to the local WPCA.
Besides the WPCA portion of the WUC authority, the state statutes also provide the regulations that must be followed for the administration of the water system in a municipality. Members of the WUC must be familiar with both the Water Pollution Control requirements and the Water System requirements as they manage the two systems for Waterford residents.