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To the Editor:
When a sewage backup led to major flooding in my West Hartford neighborhood in October of 2018, my family and neighbors struggled through waist-high water in our homes and yards. Our lives were disrupted, property ruined and keepsakes destroyed. We were exhausted, both emotionally and physically, but optimistic that our infrastructure deficiencies would be properly addressed and corrected by the Town of West Hartford and the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).
As a small business owner in the construction and real estate fields, I pride myself on my knowledge of how things work. When the initial flooding occurred, I researched extensively about our local stormwater and sanitary sewer system infrastructure and what I found was surprising and unexpected. I learned that on a regular day, the MDC wastewater treatment plant treats on average 9 million gallons of sewage from West Hartford, but on a day with heavy rain, they treat 62 million gallons. I learned that the sanitary sewer system is on average 88 years old and that there is an MS4 mandate from the Federal EPA and State of Connecticut DEEP that requires the MDC and local municipalities to prevent SSO’s or Sanitary Sewer Overflows. SSOs occur when heavy rains inundate the sanitary sewer with storm water and cause water to flow out of the sewers and into our basements, rivers and streams. But the most surprising thing I learned was that the Town of West Hartford would ultimately be responsible to provide and pay up to $500 million to build the storm sewer infrastructure.
In the spring of 2019, after the MDC finished lining the sewer pipe on our street, and things seemed back to normal, we asked the town leaders about their plans for a permanent solution to the storm water problem. They did not have an answer. In response, I helped organize the neighborhood residents and we called a town hall meeting to address the matter. My goal was not to complain about the little things, but to come to a long-term resolution in conjunction with the town of West Hartford and the MDC. We addressed the situation to make permanent structural changes. As a result, the town commissioned a study to find permanent long-term solutions. That study is expected to last for two years and cost over $200,000.
Additionally, we are now seeing the benefit of my effort in the form of the adoption of the “Integrated Plan.” This is a long-term plan that will offer a regionalized approach to solving this large and costly project. The plan, proposed by the MDC and unanimously adopted by the West Hartford Town Council after my testimony on its behalf, was my first political victory.
I knew though, that if I wanted to affect positive change, I could not sit back. I needed to be proactive and speak up. In June of 2020 I was rewarded for my hard work and advocacy when nominated by the West Hartford Republican Town Committee, and then unanimously approved by the Town Council, to be a Commissioner of the MDC.
I have continued to learn from our town’s residents about their needs and concerns while knocking on hundreds of doors during this current election cycle. Listening to people vocalize their problems has made me a better advocate on their behalf. I work to solve problems by putting people first. I will continue to bring the same energy and focus to solving the problems unique to the 18th District, such as fixing the current blight at the site of UConn’s former West Hartford Campus, addressing the high cost of energy prices and helping Connecticut achieve its full economic and social potential.
I am running for Connecticut State Representative in West Hartford’s 18th District. I want to be your advocate on issues important to our district, town, and state. I am asking for your support this November.
Rick Bush, a small business owner, landlord, and MDC Commissioner is running for Connecticut State Representative in West Hartford’s 18th District. He and his wife are longtime West Hartford residents, and their four children attend West Hartford public schools and UConn. In his spare time, Rick helps neighbors and friends with advice about home repairs and is a volunteer youth coach for soccer and basketball.