Opponents to a Niagara Bottling facility in Bloomfield took to the State Capitol today to support legislation that could trim the profits of the company that struck deals with the town and the water company to bottle millions of gallons of water per day.
The deal Niagara struck with the Metropolitan District Commission and the Town of Bloomfield, cleared the way for the company to collect about two million gallons of water per day, bottle it, and then sell it on the commercial market.
The company received discounts on sewer rates and the cost of the water itself, which are what the bill in the General Assembly would outlaw.
“Jacking up the residents’ rates while offering discounts to Niagara for them to make a profit is unacceptable and outrageous" said Kim Green, a West Hartford resident who has been very involved in the organizing effort against the plant.
Sen. Beth Bye, (D - West Hartford), represents Bloomfield, and says the issue goes far beyond the secrecy of the deal. She says it's an issue of fairness to the residents and customers of the quasi-public MDC.
“I’m all for jobs, I’m all for industry, but people need to pay their fair share of the cost of that water" Bye said during a press conference before the public hearing.
In a statement, Niagara officials say such discount restrictions on the sewer and water rates are bad for business. The company argues it has the same rights to business incentives the way every company does that's looking to do business in the state.
Niagara will hire 38 people to work at the plant.
Bill DiBella with the MDC, told NBC Connecticut he believes the cries coming from opponents of the plant more have to do with environmental issues than the business issues.
"What it really comes down to is these people are against plastic bottles" DiBella said. "If that’s the reason then have the legislature do away with plastic bottles even though they meet the recyclable standards.”
DiBella added that at the end of the day, the restrictions being discussed in the General Assembly will only hurt the state's business reputation.
“To do away with our ability to discount puts in jeopardy our ability for economic development.”
Green, the West Hartford resident, says such arguments are baseless. She contends the jobs being created by the plant are hardly ideal.
“In November there will be 38 for between $11 and $15 per hour. Actually, a typical McDonald’s employs more and they offer advancement as well," she said.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut