Attorneys Protect Water Supply in Freedom of Information Commission Ruling
Pullman & Comley has been front and center in a groundbreaking matter that has far-reaching implications for the water, electric and natural gas industries – as well as public utilities in general. Our Energy attorneys have been working to protect Torrington Water Company’s water supply from the routing of a major sewer main which would send an estimated 110,000 gallons of raw sewage each day within 500 feet of a drinking water reservoir.
During the course of the case, our attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the sewer district to obtain additional information regarding the proposed sewer line.
What resulted was a retaliatory FOIA request by the sewer district for Torrington Water Company documents relating to the project. The sewer district argued that Torrington Water Company was the functional equivalent of a governmental entity, making it subject to state Freedom of Information laws. The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission found that Torrington Water is a privately-funded stock corporation and that the provision of water is not a governmental function. Therefore, Torrington Water is not subject to FOIA. This decision preserves the sanctity of private enterprise and should prove useful to fend off other claims that public utilities are subject to FOIA.