Water

Overview

Our dedicated lawyers and analysts in Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group enjoy a long history of helping water supply and wastewater treatment clients achieve their objectives. Our across-the-board experience and talent includes working with our clients to complete capital projects; establish rates, assessments, and user fees; and resolve compliance concerns. We provide legal assistance in the following areas affecting water and wastewater issues:

  • water supply extensions, intermunicipal system connections, and other infrastructure projects
  • legal counsel and representation in rate reviews, user fees, and assessment disputes
  • stormwater management, wastewater treatment, sewer overflow, discharge permitting, and other compliance concerns arising under the Clean Water Act and related state regulatory requirements
  • compliance investigations and legal counsel/representation in enforcement actions and other proceedings under the Safe Drinking Water Act and state requirements concerning the supply and quality of potable waters
  • acquisitions/divestitures and contracts for supplies and services
  • finance for development/infrastructure and other projects and transactions
  • litigation counsel and representation in business and property disputes, dam and streamflow regulatory obligations, water supply protection efforts and aquifer protection, zoning, and other land use restrictions 

Our Services

Water Resources

Robinson+Cole has successfully assisted water supply clients with efforts to secure permits and approvals for public, tribal, industrial, and commercial projects. Our legal team works closely with other in-house and outside project team members (for example, legal, technical, governmental, and public relations) to marshal the facts and evidence needed to submit approvable applications to regulators and secure the required community and agency support. Our projects have overcome rigorous needs analyses for supply and distribution systems, conflicting supply models, and challenges related to multiple user demands for over-allocated water supplies. We have also advised water supply clients facing a variety of water quality challenges, ranging from industrial contamination to naturally occurring radionuclides. We have developed strategies that fulfill the clients’ business objectives while addressing water supply land classification restrictions, including efforts to modify use restrictions on classified lands, declassification of lands, and conveyance of regulated properties.

Water Contamination

Robinson+Cole has represented hundreds of clients in state and federal matters with respect to the investigation and remediation of water supply, releases threatening aquifers and other environmental media, and emergency water supply measures. These services include the following:

  • providing crisis response counseling
  • negotiating requirements with environmental agencies and abutters
  • developing favorable cleanup criteria
  • implementing engineered controls
  • securing groundwater reclassifications
  • working with consultants to develop cost-effective remediation approaches
  • evaluating the fate and transport of groundwater constituents
  • addressing affected water supply wells

Robinson+Cole regularly assists clients with contract negotiations and risk-shifting alternatives involving environmental consultants and insurers. We also regularly advise clients on remediation and reporting requirements with respect to all environmental media while representing clients in pursuing or defending claims for recovery of, or contribution toward, costs responding to hazardous substance releases in state and federal courts across the country.

Wastewater Treatment Services and Facilities

Our representation allows public and private owners to finance construction of new and expanded wastewater treatment works and also meet their wide array of regulatory compliance demands as well as enforce their fee, loading, and other sewer use restrictions. These cases include successful responses to defend state and federal enforcement actions for sewer overflow and other compliance allegations, to recover unpaid surcharge fees, and to impose protective loading limits on industrial discharges. Our work on wastewater construction projects includes financing and legal counsel for flood-proofing and other climate change resiliency efforts, in addition to more advanced wastewater treatment and facility and service expansions. To support these projects and guide owners and operators seeking to comply with increasingly stringent treatment requirements, we team with our client’s personnel and consultants and draw on the experience and talent in the firm’s finance, environmental, and other legal practices, as appropriate, to form the most effective and efficient team possible.

Hydropower

The Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group has successfully worked within the heavily regulated intersection presented by hydropower projects. Our team focuses on these critical areas:

  • analyzing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jurisdictions
  • assisting with licensing/relicensing efforts
  • addressing FERC preemption issues
  • negotiating, counseling, and assisting with environmental agency/FERC interface issues, such as water resources, fish passageways, shoreline management plans, and property rights

Our Team

Members of our group are active in numerous professional and industry trade organizations that represent and support the water and wastewater infrastructure market sector, including the following:

  • the American Water Works Association
  • the Connecticut Water Works Association
  • the Connecticut Environmental Forum
  • the National Aquaculture Association
  • the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, Energy and Environment Council
  • the Energy Bar Association
  • the Connecticut Power and Energy Society
  • the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers
  • the New England Women in Energy and the Environment
  • the Society of Women Environmental Professionals, Connecticut Chapter
  • the United States Delegation to the Second Session of the United Nations Committee on Fisheries

 

 

    • Experience
      • Water Supply

      • Successfully represented a tribal utility authority in Connecticut supporting one of the world’s largest gaming facilities to develop a regional water supply project involving several municipal water supply distribution and user systems. The project called for connection of multiple entity infrastructure, as well as improvements to existing system elements and construction of new storage capacity. The system was designed to accommodate additional future connections with other regional towns and the potential for development of system redundancies to allow use of alternative supply sources in emergencies. We negotiated the terms of the water allocation process, pricing standards, systems operational obligations, and construction cost allocation formula for the project. We also negotiated related agreements between our client and various project members to fund municipal storage supply enhancements, construction cost reimbursement methods, and exclusive service area agreements.

      • Representing a national public research university in Connecticut that manages its own water supply with a full evaluation of additional source water supply alternatives. These range from development of new groundwater well fields to interconnection with other public and private water supply systems. Our project includes assistance in public health and environmental permitting, as well as negotiation of water supply, development, and management agreements (for example, Intermunicipality Agreement governing payments).

      • Representation of a private sector client serving as a water supply company in evaluating supply options and alternatives, treatment options and alternatives, and jurisdictional issues associated with expansion.

      • Representation of a private sector client in the performance of a water supply and distribution analysis to evaluate options to secure, treat, and provide potable and irrigation water for a city, as well as a town, in the Rocky Mountains. We worked with the client and the city and town with respect to all requisite permits, water rights, infrastructure, and expert consulting matters.

      • Representation of a commercial development client securing water supply for a large retail facility. The project was challenged by a lack of public water supply infrastructure and on-site chemical and radionuclide contamination. We performed the water supply alternatives analysis that evaluated potential connection with an abutting municipal system, a large residential development project, an adjacent exclusive service area supplier, and an on-site supply system with advanced treatment. We demonstrated to regulators that the on-site system was the best option and secured the regulatory approvals to undertake that approach.

      • Representation of private developer of water infrastructure in connection with water system development, licensing, and conveyance.

      • Represent municipal water company expanding surface water resources.

      • Compliance and Enforcement

      • Representation of a municipal water supply client to replace a substantial groundwater supply resource contaminated by industrial waste disposal practices. We assisted the client in securing regulatory approvals for a replacement supply that involved coordination of multiple permittee projects all affecting an over-allocated resource. We developed the state’s first joint allocation methodology for multiple permittees tied to stream flow monitoring data.

      • Successful representation of a Connecticut city’s water utility with its permitting campaign required to expand its surface water reservoir and increase the height of the reservoir’s dam/weir.

      • Assisted numerous municipalities with their development and passage of aquifer protection ordinances.

      • Counseled a large, privately held manufacturing client in a project involving a contaminated municipal water supply well, a regional and onsite groundwater investigation and remediation, and an on-site RCRA Corrective Action.

      • Represent municipal water company in developing regulatory wellhead protection and cost recovery associated with groundwater contamination.

      • Representation of a municipal water department in the earliest multimunicipal permit and operating agreement with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection regarding coordinated water supply diversions from the Quinnipiac River.

      • Representation of a public golf course facility as permit applicant under the Connecticut Water Diversion Policy Act for approval of  water supply ponds and irrigation distribution systems.

      • Acquisitions and Contracts

      • On a compressed schedule, completed a three-state legal due diligence review for an international public utility considering the acquisition of a large U.S. private water company, including preliminary review and analysis of critical regulatory, environmental, real estate, tax, and labor and employment matters.

      • Assisted clients with the acquisition and divestiture of water supply companies involved with both public water supply and the provision of bottled water.

      • Advised water authority regarding title and transactional aspects of the acquisition of property in eastern Massachusetts for the development of a new water storage facility. Researched title information, advised authority’s in-house counsel on drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreement, drafted and negotiated title-clearing instruments, and provided extensive closing assistance for property acquisition.

      • Assisted water supply company with the environmental/regulatory aspects of its sale of a large Connecticut water supply and distribution system.

      • Represent major water company relative to acquisition and compliance.

      • Represented the City of Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) in connection with its entry into an anaerobic digestion facility design, build, and operate agreement with an affiliate of Anaergia, Inc., pursuant to which one of the nation's first anaerobic digestion and cogeneration facilities will be established and operated in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

      • Represented the City of Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) in connection with its entry into a wastewater treatment system service agreement with Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc., pursuant to which Severn Trent shall operate and maintain the WPCA's wastewater treatment facilities for a 10-year initial term.

      • Represented the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (GNHWPCA) in connection with its entry into a maintenance services agreement with New Haven Residuals, Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Synagro Technologies Inc., pursuant to which New Haven Residuals shall maintain the GNHWPCA's wastewater treatment facilities for a 15-year initial term.

      • Represented the City of Danbury, Connecticut, in connection with privatization of its wastewater treatment plant where the City obtained a $10 million advance payment on prospective savings and stabilized future rates under a 20-year management contract. Negotiated the purchase agreement with, and received approval from, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

      • Represented numerous Connecticut municipalities in structuring and negotiating a wastewater treatment system service agreement relating to the maintenance and operation of each of the municipalities' wastewater treatment facilities by a private contract operator.

      • Represented the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (the GNHWPCA), a regional water pollution control authority organized under chapter 446k of the General Statutes of Connecticut, in its formation, acquisition of water pollution assets, and issuance of bonds to finance the transaction. The GNHWPCA serves four municipalities in the greater New Haven area, including New Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and Woodbridge. Drafted all of the relevant transaction documents, including the concurrent ordinance, the bylaws of the GNHWPCA, the asset purchase agreement, a transition services agreement, a cost-sharing agreement, and other ancillary closing documents and negotiated the terms of such agreements with counsel from the other constituent municipalities. The City of New Haven was counseled through the approval process for this transaction, including representation of the City's interests before the City Plan Commission, the Water Pollution Control Authority, and the Board of Aldermen. Our representation of the City of New Haven and the GNHWPCA on this project required the joint efforts of lawyers in our Public Finance; Business Transactions; Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications; and Real Estate + Development Groups. We continue representation of the GNHWPCA as general counsel and bond counsel.

      • Aquaculture permit project representing a commercial aquaculture operation in securing state and federal structures permits.

      • Litigation

      • Successful representation of a Connecticut town’s water works department in connection with damage claims against third parties that affected high-production wells in its primary well field.

      • Successful representation of governmental authority relative to damage claims against third parties that affected high-production wells in its primary well field.

      • Represent water pollution control authority in federal Clean Water Act citizen suit, including state statutory and common law claims.

      • Representation of large privately held manufacturer sued as sole PPR from a  four-mile production plume affecting public and private water supplier in two separate municipalities.

      • Represented tug and barge operator in connection with vessel explosion off Staten Island. The EPA brought a claim against the operator under the Clean Water Act (CWA) due to resulting oil contamination. Our defense challenged the agency’s interpretation of “point source” under the CWA.

      • Represented a municipal water pollution control authority (WPCA) in claims against a centralized waste treatment facility for unpermitted discharges and unpaid sewer use charges. Counseled the client on sewer use charge issues and the adoption of regulations and permit program elements restricting these indirect discharges. Worked on multidisciplinary team that represented the WPCA through permit and rate proceedings, related litigation and collection efforts, and a global settlement between the WPCA and the industrial user.

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    • News
      • February 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Forms Sustainability Cross-Practice Team

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