S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
2023-2024 Regular Sessions
I N A S S E M B L Y
March 2, 2023
Introduced by M. of A. GONZALEZ-ROJAS, KELLES -- read once and referred
to the Committee on Environmental Conservation
AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law and the state finance
law, in relation to establishing the public water justice act
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "public
water justice act".
§ 2. Legislative findings and intent. The legislature hereby finds
1. The waters of the state are held by the state as sovereign and in
public trust for the benefit of the people of the state of New York.
2. As trustee, the state of New York shall protect and sustain the
integrity of flows, levels, and quality of water, fish and aquatic habi-
tat for the use and enjoyment by citizens now and in the future.
3. As trustee, and based on the paramount public interest in the
waters of the state and public health of its citizens, the state shall
provide for and protect the right of access to safe drinking water,
water sources, public water supply, public waterworks and infrastruc-
ture, public health, and fishing, navigation, recreation, conservation,
and the reasonable use of water in connection with the ownership or
lawful occupancy of land, not limited to domestic, agricultural, commer-
cial, industrial and public utility uses.
§ 3. Section 15-0109 of the environmental conservation law is amended
to read as follows:
§ 15-0109. General jurisdiction.
The department shall exercise its powers and perform its duties in any
matter affecting the construction of improvements to or developments of
water resources for the public health, safety or welfare, including but
not limited to the supply of potable waters for the various munici-
palities and inhabitants thereof, the use of water for industrial,
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
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COMMERCIAL, and agricultural operations, the developed and undeveloped
water power of the state, the facilitation of proper drainage and the
regulation of flow and improvement of the rivers of the state.
§ 4. Subdivisions 13 and 16 of section 15-1502 of the environmental
conservation law, as added by chapter 401 of the laws of 2011, are
amended and fifteen new subdivisions 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,
26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 are added to read as follows:
13. "Public water supply system" shall mean a permanently installed
water withdrawal system including its source, collection, pumping,
treatment, transmission, storage and distribution facilities used in
connection with such system, which provides piped potable water to the
public for potable purposes, if such system has at least five service
connections used by year-round residents, A SYSTEM THAT CONSISTS SOLELY
OF CUSTOMER SITE PIPING.
16. "Withdrawal" or "withdrawal of water" shall mean the removal or
taking of water for any purpose from the waters of the state, INCLUDING
SURFACE WATER OR GROUND WATER.
17. "AFFORDABILITY" MEANS MEASURES OR OTHER ASSISTANCE TO ASSURE EQUAL
ACCESS TO ADEQUATE CLEAN, SAFE WATER AND SANITATION, WITHOUT DISCRIMI-
NATION, INTERFERENCE OR INEQUITABLE OR UNJUST TERMINATION OF THE RIGHT
OF ACCESS TO WATER BY ANY PERSON OR HOUSEHOLD OF PERSONS WITH INSUFFI-
CIENT INCOME FROM HARDSHIP OR DISABILITY TO PAY THE FULL RATE OR PRICE
FOR ACCESS TO A MINIMUM WATER SUPPLY TO PROTECT HEALTH AND SANITATION
FOR THEIR DWELLING.
18. "APPLICANT" MEANS A PERSON, CORPORATION, OR OTHER ORGANIZATION OR
ENTITY APPLYING FOR A LICENSE UNDER THIS SECTION FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED
19. "CUSTOMER SERVICE CONNECTION" MEANS THE PIPE BETWEEN A WATER MAIN
AND CUSTOMER SITE PIPING OR BUILDING PLUMBING SYSTEM.
20. "CUSTOMER SITE PIPING" MEANS AN UNDERGROUND PIPING SYSTEM OWNED OR
CONTROLLED BY A CUSTOMER THAT CONVEYS WATER FROM SUCH CUSTOMER'S CUSTOM-
ER SERVICE CONNECTION TO BUILDING PLUMBING SYSTEMS AND OTHER POINTS OF
USE ON LANDS OWNED OR CONTROLLED BY SUCH CUSTOMER. "CUSTOMER SITE
PIPING" SHALL NOT INCLUDE ANY SYSTEM THAT INCORPORATES TREATMENT TO
PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH.
21. "DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITY" SHALL MEAN SUCH COMMUNITIES AS IDENTI-
FIED PURSUANT TO SECTION 75-0111 OF THIS CHAPTER.
22. "DIVERSION" MEANS THE TRANSFER OF WATER BY ANY MEANS, INCLUDING IN
A CONTAINER INTENDED FOR AN IMMEDIATE OR END-USE CONSUMER FROM ITS
SOURCE IN ONE LAKE OR WATERSHED TO ANOTHER LAKE OR WATERSHED.
23. "PERMITTEE" MEANS THE HOLDER OF A LICENSE UNDER SECTION 15-1503 OF
24. "ROYALTY FEE" MEANS COMPENSATION TO THE STATE FOR THE AUTHORI-
ZATION OF A PERMIT TO ALLOW A WITHDRAWAL, DIVERSION OR TRANSFER BY ANY
PERSON FROM THE SOVEREIGN WATERS OF THE STATE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRODUC-
ING AND PACKAGING WATER FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER UNDER SUBDIVISION
TWO-A OF SECTION 15-1503 OF THIS TITLE.
25. "SALE OF WATER" MEANS THE PRODUCTION, PACKAGING OR DELIVERY OF
WATER FROM A WATER SOURCE OR PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM IN CONTAINERS OR
BY ANY OTHER MEANS IN EXCHANGE FOR MONEY OR OTHER CONSIDERATION.
26. "SALE OF BOTTLED WATER" MEANS WATER WITHDRAWN FROM A WATER SOURCE
OR PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM AND TRANSFERRED OR DIVERTED TO A PLANT OR
OTHER FACILITY FOR THE SALE OF WATER IN A CONTAINER OR PACKAGE OF NOT
MORE THAN 5.7 GALLONS.
27. "SPRING WATER" MEANS SPRING WATER AS DEFINED IN 21 C.F.R. 165.110
FOR BOTTLED WATER.
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28. "WATERSHED" MEANS THE WATERSHED OF PRIMARY RIVERS AND THE SUB-WAT-
ERSHEDS OF THEIR TRIBUTARY STREAMS AND CREEKS.
29. "WATER MAIN" MEANS A PIPE OWNED OR CONTROLLED BY A SUPPLIER THAT
MAY CONVEY WATER TO A CUSTOMER SERVICE CONNECTION OR TO A FIRE HYDRANT.
30. "WATERS OF THE STATE" MEANS GROUNDWATER, LAKES, RIVERS, AND
STREAMS AND ALL OTHER WATERCOURSES AND WATERS, INCLUDING THE GREAT
LAKES, WITHIN THE TERRITORIAL BOUNDARIES OF THE STATE, AND SHALL INCLUDE
WATER WITHDRAWN FROM THE WATERS OF THE STATE AND DELIVERED THROUGH
PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS. WATERS OF THE STATE SHALL NOT INCLUDE
DRAINAGE WAYS AND PONDS DESIGNED AND CONSTRUCTED SOLELY FOR WASTEWATER
CONVEYANCE, TREATMENT, OR CONTROL.
31. "PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUND" MEANS SUCH FUND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT
TO SECTION NINETY-NINE-QQ OF THE STATE FINANCE LAW.
§ 5. Section 15-1503 of the environmental conservation law is amended
by adding a new subdivision 2-a to read as follows:
2-A. WHERE AN APPLICANT FOR A PERMIT UNDER THIS SECTION IS SEEKING
SUCH PERMIT FOR THE PURPOSES OF WITHDRAWING, TAKING, REMOVING, DIVERT-
ING, AND/OR TRANSFERRING FROM THE WATERS OF THE STATE FOR THE SALE OF
BOTTLED WATER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL APPLY.
A. THE DEPARTMENT SHALL NOT ISSUE A PERMIT PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION TO
A PERSON OR ENTITY WHO PROPOSES TO ENGAGE IN THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER
UNLESS ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET:
I. BEFORE ISSUANCE OF SUCH PERMIT, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL PROVIDE WRIT-
TEN NOTICE OF THE APPLICATION FOR SUCH PERMIT WITH CONDITIONS AND
PROPOSED ROYALTY FEES AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH B OF THIS SUBDIVISION, AT
LEAST SIXTY DAYS PRIOR TO SUCH APPROVAL: TO ANY LOCAL UNIT OF GOVERN-
MENT, ANY PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM DISTRICT, AUTHORITY OR DEPARTMENT,
ANY RECOGNIZED TRIBAL SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT, AND TO THE APPLICANT; TO BE
PUBLISHED IN A PROMINENT NEWSPAPER WITH GENERAL CIRCULATION IN THE
LOCALE OF THE WATER SOURCE OR SUPPLY; AND TO BE POSTED ON THE DEPART-
MENT'S WEBSITE IN A CONSPICUOUS MANNER. THE DEPARTMENT MAY ON ITS OWN
OR UPON REQUEST OF AN INTERESTED PERSON PROVIDE FOR A PUBLIC HEARING,
WHICH SHALL BE GIVEN THE SAME PUBLIC NOTICE AS PROVIDED IN THIS SUBPARA-
GRAPH. SUCH PUBLIC NOTICE SHALL PROVIDE AT LEAST A FORTY-FIVE DAY
COMMENT PERIOD BEFORE ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT. UPON REQUEST OF A LOCAL
UNIT OF GOVERNMENT OR RECOGNIZED TRIBAL SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT IN WHICH
THE WATER SOURCE OR SUPPLY IS LOCATED, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL MEET AND
CONSULT WITH THE LOCAL UNIT OF GOVERNMENT OR TRIBE NOT LESS THAN FIFTEEN
DAYS BEFORE ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT.
II. BEFORE APPROVAL AND ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL
EVALUATE, ASSURE, AND DULY ESTABLISH THAT ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE MET:
(A) THE APPLICANT HAS COMPLIED WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION;
(B) THE APPLICANT HAS SHOWN, BASED ON CLAUSE (A) OF THIS SUBPARAGRAPH
AND ALL OTHER AVAILABLE INFORMATION, INCLUDING PUBLIC NOTICE, HEARING,
PARTICIPATION AND COMMENTS OR CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT, SOVER-
EIGN TRIBES RECOGNIZED BY TREATY WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OR OTHER
INTERESTED PERSONS AS REQUIRED BY SUBPARAGRAPH I OF THIS PARAGRAPH, THAT
THE DIVERSION, WITHDRAWAL AND/OR TRANSFER OF THE WATERS OF THE STATE FOR
THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER IS SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST AND
SHALL NOT IMPAIR THE PUBLIC TRUST AND PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND
(C) THE APPLICANT HAS COMPLIED WITH THE APPLICATION AND ROYALTY FEES
REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH B OF THIS SUBDIVISION;
(D) ANY CONDITIONS THE DEPARTMENT SHALL HAVE REQUIRED AS A CONDITION
FOR ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT FOR THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF THE
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WATERS OF THE STATE, PUBLIC TRUST IN SUCH WATERS, AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH,
SAFETY, AND WELFARE OF CITIZENS AND LOCAL COMMUNITY.
B. I. BEFORE PROCESSING AN APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT UNDER THIS SECTION
FOR THE PURPOSES OF WITHDRAWING, TAKING, REMOVING, DIVERTING, AND/OR
TRANSFERRING FROM THE WATERS OF THE STATE FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER,
AN APPLICANT SHALL PAY AN APPLICATION FEE OF FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS AND A
FEE OF FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS OR MORE AS DETERMINED BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR
REIMBURSEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT'S EXPENSES FOR PROCESSING AND EVALUATING
II. A PERMITTEE SHALL PAY A ROYALTY FEE FOR THE RIGHT TO DIVERT, WITH-
DRAW, REMOVE AND/OR TRANSFER THE SOVEREIGN WATERS OF THE STATE OR PUBLIC
WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM FOR PURPOSES OF THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER IN ACCORD-
ANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING:
(A) THE PERMITTEE SHALL PAY A ROYALTY FEE OF NOT LESS THAN TWENTY-FIVE
CENTS PER GALLON FOR THE RIGHT TO WITHDRAW, TAKE AND/OR TRANSFER THE
WATERS OF THE STATE FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER. SUBJECT TO PUBLIC
NOTICE, HEARING AND COMMENT AS PROVIDED FOR IN PARAGRAPH A OF THIS
SUBDIVISION, THE DEPARTMENT MAY PROMULGATE A HIGHER FEE PER GALLON BASED
ON A REASONABLE EVALUATION AND DETERMINATION OF FAIR AND ADEQUATE
ECONOMIC VALUE FOR THE RIGHT OF SALE OF BOTTLED WATER FROM THE WATERS OF
(B) THE PERMITTEE SHALL FILE ON THE FIRST DAY OF EACH MONTH, BEGINNING
THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT, A WRITTEN
SUMMARY AND REPORT, WITH SUPPORTING DATA AND INFORMATION, THE TOTAL
VOLUME OF WATER WITHDRAWN. THE PERMITTEE SHALL PAY THE ROYALTY FEE
REQUIRED BY CLAUSE (A) OF THIS SUBPARAGRAPH ON A QUARTERLY BASIS, BEGIN-
NING WITH THE FIRST DAY OF THE QUARTER OF THE YEAR AFTER THE DATE OF THE
APPROVAL AND ISSUANCE OF THE PERMIT. THE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOSE A LATE
FEE ACCORDING TO A SCHEDULE OF FEES, PAYMENT, OR INTEREST ESTABLISHED BY
THE DEPARTMENT PURSUANT TO RULES PROMULGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT.
III. THE DEPARTMENT SHALL DEPOSIT THE ROYALTY FEE COLLECTED FROM EACH
PERMITTEE PURSUANT TO SUBPARAGRAPH II OF THIS PARAGRAPH INTO THE PUBLIC
WATER JUSTICE FUND IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND REGU-
IV. THE DEPARTMENT'S EXPENSES, INCLUDING ALL REASONABLE EXPENSES
RELATED TO COLLECTION AND MANAGEMENT OF FEES UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION,
SHALL BE PAID AND A NET ROYALTY FEE PAYMENT MADE TO THE PUBLIC WATER
JUSTICE FUND ON A QUARTERLY BASIS, BEGINNING WITH THE THIRD QUARTER
AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SUBDIVISION OR THE ISSUANCE OF THE
FIRST PERMIT UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST.
V. WHERE THE WATER IS FROM A WATER SOURCE THAT IS FROM THE WATERS OF
THE STATE, THE NET PROCEEDS FROM EACH PERMITTEE SHALL BE DEPOSITED IN
THE PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUND.
VI. WHERE THE WATER IS FROM A PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM OR WATER-
WORKS, WHICH WITHDRAWS AND DISTRIBUTES THE WATERS OF THE STATE AS A
PUBLIC SERVICE WITHIN ITS LAWFUL TERRITORY, THE NET PROCEEDS FROM EACH
PERMITTEE SHALL BE DEPOSITED IN THE PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUND, AND THE
DEPARTMENT SHALL ALLOCATE AN AMOUNT UP TO TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE NET
PROCEEDS OF THE PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUND IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR TO PUBLIC
WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS, FROM WHICH THE WATER IS WITHDRAWN, TAKEN, DIVERTED
AND/OR TRANSFERRED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER.
VII. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBDIVISION, THE TERM "NET PROCEEDS"
SHALL MEAN NET PROCEEDS FROM ROYALTIES UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION, MINUS
COSTS AND EXPENSES.
C. I. IN ADDITION TO ALL OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION, A PERSON
OR OTHER ENTITY SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED TO WITHDRAW AND TRANSFER MORE
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THAN FIFTY THOUSAND GALLONS A DAY FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER AS
SPRING WATER UNLESS IT IS ESTABLISHED BY THE PERMITTEE AND DETERMINED BY
THE DEPARTMENT THAT:
(A) THERE IS SUFFICIENT EXISTING ACTUAL DATA AND INFORMATION THAT
CHARACTERIZES TO THE FULLEST EXTENT POSSIBLE THE HYDROLOGICAL AND
GEOLOGICAL CONDITIONS REQUIRED TO ACCURATELY MEASURE AND CALCULATE THE
EFFECT ON THE FLOWS, LEVELS AND OTHER PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OF THE GROUND-
WATER, SPRINGS, WETLANDS, CREEKS, STREAMS, LAKES OR PONDS THAT HAVE A
DIRECT HYDROLOGICAL CONNECTION TO THE SPRING WATER SOURCE; AND
(B) BASED ON THE ACTUAL DATA AND INFORMATION ESTABLISHED UNDER CLAUSE
(A) OF THIS SUBPARAGRAPH, THE WITHDRAWAL AND TRANSFER OF SPRING WATER
SHALL NOT MEASURABLY DIMINISH AND IMPAIR THE FLOW, LEVEL AND OTHER PHYS-
ICAL PARAMETERS OF THE WETLANDS, CREEKS, STREAMS, LAKES OR PONDS, FISH
AND OTHER WILDLIFE AND PLANT HABITAT OR THE PUBLIC TRUST IN SUCH
FEATURES, WILDLIFE AND HABITAT.
II. ANY DECISION OR DETERMINATION REQUIRED BY THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT AND BE CONDITIONED ON THE POTENTIAL FOR, OR OCCUR-
RENCES OF, INCREASED INTENSITY AND FREQUENCY OF WEATHER EVENTS DUE TO
CHANGES IN CLIMATE.
§ 6. The environmental conservation law is amended by adding a new
section 15-1508 to read as follows:
§ 15-1508. USE OF PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUNDS.
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL DIRECT THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE PUBLIC WATER
JUSTICE FUND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SUBPARAGRAPH VI OF
PARAGRAPH B OF SUBDIVISION TWO-A OF SECTION 15-1503 OF THIS TITLE AND
SECTION NINETY-NINE-QQ OF THE STATE FINANCE LAW. IN DIRECTING THE
ADMINISTRATION OF SUCH FUND, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CONSULT WITH PUBLIC
WATER AUTHORITIES IN THE STATE INCLUDING LOCAL WATER DISTRICTS AND WATER
AGENCIES, AS WELL AS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE GROUPS AND OTHER ENVIRON-
MENTAL JUSTICE EXPERTS AS DETERMINED APPROPRIATE BY THE DEPARTMENT.
§ 7. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-qq to
read as follows:
§ 99-QQ. PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE FUND. 1. THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED IN
THE JOINT CUSTODY OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER AND THE COMMISSIONER OF TAXA-
TION AND FINANCE A SPECIAL FUND TO BE KNOWN AS THE "PUBLIC WATER JUSTICE
2. SUCH FUND SHALL CONSIST OF ALL REVENUES RECEIVED BY THE STATE,
PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SUBDIVISION TWO-A OF SECTION 15-1503 OF
THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ALL
BONUSES, RENTALS, DELAYED RENTALS, ROYALTIES, PENALTIES OR FINES FOR
NON-COMPLIANCE COLLECTED BY, OR RESERVED BY, THE STATE UNDER THE
LICENSES FOR THE SALE OF BOTTLED WATER ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SUCH
3. (A) THE MONEYS IN SUCH FUND SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR THE FOLLOWING
(I) ASSISTANCE FOR WATER AFFORDABILITY PLANS OR OTHER MEASURES,
INCLUDING INCOME AFFORDABILITY, ASSURED LOW-COST MINIMUM WATER USE AND
CONSERVATION, INNOVATIVE PRICING, RATES, TIERS OF WATER USE AND CONSER-
VATION, TO ASSURE EQUITABLE AND AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO CLEAN, SAFE WATER
(II) PROTECTION, CONSERVATION, EFFICIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY AND CLEANUP
TO ASSURE SAFE, CLEAN AND ADEQUATE GROUNDWATER AND SURFACE WATER SOURCES
FOR DRINKING WATER AND WATER SUPPLIES WITHIN THE STATE, INCLUDING BUT
NOT LIMITED TO, NEW TECHNOLOGIES, GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENHANCED
RESILIENCY AND ADAPTABILITY TO PREDICT EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS OR CLIMAT-
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(III) PROTECTION OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND INDIVIDUAL HEALTH NEEDS DIRECTLY
RELATED TO INVESTIGATION, MEDICAL EXAMINATION AND WATER QUALITY AND
MEDICAL MONITORING; AND
(IV) REPAIR, IMPROVEMENT OR REPLACEMENT OF ANY LINE THAT IS DETERMINED
TO BE A HEALTH RISK TO THOSE WHO OCCUPY ANY SINGLE OR MULTI-FAMILY RESI-
DENTIAL DWELLING UNIT THAT CONNECTS TO THE PUBLIC WATER MAIN OR PIPELINE
(B) ANY INTERESTED MUNICIPAL PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY DEPARTMENT, DISTRICT,
AUTHORITY, OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, OR ANY PERSON WHO LIVES WITHIN THE
TERRITORY OR IS SERVED BY A PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM MAY APPLY FOR A
GRANT FOR ONE OR MORE OF THE DEDICATED PURPOSES OF THE PUBLIC WATER
JUSTICE FUND UNDER THIS SECTION. THE APPLICATION, PROCESS, PUBLIC
NOTICE, MEETINGS, AND DECISIONS SHALL BE PROCESSED BY THE DEPARTMENT.
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL APPORTION AND ALLOCATE THE GRANTS OF AVAILABLE
FUNDS IN ANY GIVEN HEARING IN A FAIR AND PROPORTIONATE MANNER AMONG
APPLICANTS THAT IN THE DISCRETION OF THE DEPARTMENT BEST MEETS THE
INTENT AND DEDICATED PURPOSES OF TITLE FIFTEEN OF ARTICLE FIFTEEN OF THE
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW AND ANY RULES OR REGULATIONS PROMULGATED
THERETO; EXCEPT THAT THERE SHALL BE A PREFERENCE FOR AT LEAST THIRTY-
FIVE PERCENT OF THE FUNDS TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO DISADVANTAGED COMMUNI-
§ 8. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
it shall have become a law. Effective immediately, the addition, amend-
ment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implemen-
tation of this act on its effective date are authorized to be made and
completed on or before such effective date.