Public water supply emergency declared in Waterbury - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Public water supply emergency declared in Waterbury

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Waterbury city officials declared a public water supply emergency. (WFSB) Waterbury city officials declared a public water supply emergency. (WFSB)

Due to drought conditions, the state's Department of Public Health declared a public water supply emergency for city of Waterbury, and the towns that use its water supply. 

Commissioner Raul Pino declared a temporary 30-day public water supply emergency because the water supply in reservoirs are nearing very low levels.

Waterbury's Water Bureau provides service to city residents and businesses, while selling water to parts of Middlebury, Wolcott and Watertown. 

This order allows Waterbury to "reduce the amount of water it is required to discharge to the Shepaug River from the current level of six million gallons per day to 1.5 million gallons per day, the allowable level during winter months," according to DPH.  

Due to the order, the city of Waterbury "must institute mandatory water conservation measures and demonstrate to DPH that it is maximizing the use of all current water sources." 

“As our drought conditions persist, we may face the reality of more systems needing emergency assistance to ensure adequate supplies of drinking water. With very little precipitation in our forecast for the foreseeable future, it is critical that all Connecticut residents, regardless of location, conserve water during this prolonged period of dry weather,” Pino said in a statement on Thursday.

Conditions of the public water supply emergency include: 

  • Prohibiting Waterbury from adding new customers without prior approval by DPH
  • Continuing mandatory outdoor watering bans
  • Requiring Waterbury to provide weekly public notifications on water supplies for the affected towns
  • Requiring Waterbury to update its drought plan and drought triggers
  • Requiring Waterbury to perform a water audit of its top 20 largest water users
  • Assist users with identifying ways to reduce usage

This public water supply emergency is the second in Connecticut. An emergency was declared for the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan. Those towns are served by Aquarion Water Company.

DPH officials said the order will remain in effect for 30 days, but "Waterbury can apply for additional 30 day extensions, up to a maximum of 150 days." 

Eyewitness News talked with residents that said they were on board with the water restrictions, who said "The state and the town and the water districts really need to enforce water because people voluntarily keep watering their grass and their cars until you run out of water," said Ted Bailey.

Restaurants, like Ragozzino's in Waterbury, use a lot of water, and said they have to keep using water to stay up and running.

While it's not easy, employees at the local Public House are working on ways to save water.

One idea bartender Amber Cocchiola came up with is to do dishes more efficiently.

"During shift changes I'll hold off on dishes. I'll hold off on my dishes for my shift. I'll wash what I have and the night person can get more use out of that," Cocchiola said.

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