Friday, October 28, 2016
Gov. Malloy: After State's First-Ever Drought Watch Issued, Residents Asked to Voluntarily Reduce Water Use When Possible
Drought Watched Issued for the First Time Ever in Six of Connecticut’s Eight Counties
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that in response to the decision made by the Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup to issue the state's first-ever Drought Watch, he is advising residents to be mindful of their water consumption and to limit unnecessary water usage when possible.
"After three years of precipitation shortfalls, we are moving to a Drought Watch and it would be extremely helpful if residents could be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to help stretch our water supply," Governor Malloy said.
The Drought Watch applies to counties in western and central Connecticut, including Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, and Tolland Counties. The Interagency Drought Workgroup is requesting residents, businesses, and local governments in these counties to voluntarily reduce their water use by around 15 percent. The previously announced Drought Advisory that went into effect statewide in June will remain for New London and Windham Counties, where residents, businesses, and local governments are asked to reduce usage by around 10 percent.
The Governor has directed the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services to review and implement areas where water usage among state government facilities can be reduced when possible.
Unlike a Storm Watch that is issued when bad weather is possible, a Drought Watch means that the state is already experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. A decision to issue a Drought Watch is based on an assessment of indicator data monitored by state and federal agencies, including precipitation, stream flows, groundwater levels, reservoirs status, soil moisture, vegetation, and fire danger conditions. This data is available to the public on the Interagency Drought Workgroup's website.
Paired with historically warm temperatures, precipitation in Connecticut ranged from 60 percent to 73 percent of normal conditions between June and September. Drinking water reservoirs have continued to decline, and average levels statewide were at less than 80 percent of normal as of the end of September, with some reservoirs less than half full.
Residents and businesses served by public water suppliers are urged to follow any advice or requests from their supplier and municipalities, as conditions will vary across the state. Residents and businesses supplied by groundwater wells should be aware of any local ordinances in place regarding water usage restrictions, and should conserve water to reduce the potential stress on their wells, neighboring wells, and on the environment.
To date, 20 water companies have requested voluntary conservation or imposed mandatory restrictions. A continually updated list of these water companies is available on the Department of Public Health's website.
While this is the state's first Drought Watch, lower-level Drought Advisories were previously declared in 2002, 2007, 2010, and earlier this year. A Drought Watch is the second of four stages of drought defined in the Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan.
The Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup consists of state officials from the Department of Public Health, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture, Office of Policy and Management, and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. It will continue to monitor conditions across the region and will provide updates as needed.
On Oct 18th, the MDC announced that it is planning to halt its releases into the West Branch of the Farmington River in mid-November due to the prolonged drought. By charter, they are required to release 32 M gallons/day through Goodwin Dam to maintain a minimum flow of 50 cubic feet/sec (cfs). But much of MDC's allotted water in Colebrook River Lake and soon in the West Branch Reservoir (both of which flow through the Goodwin Dam) will be exhausted.
From the MDC press release: "The West Branch Reservoir and Colebrook River Lake are not currently used as part of the MDC’s drinking water supply, but are used to manage riparian flow releases, to release minimum stream flows to maintain the West Branch of the Farmington River, and to enhance recreation on the reservoirs and in the river. The multi-purpose nature of these impoundments and the benefits that they provide to the river as a whole, are major reasons why this portion of the River downstream of Goodwin Dam has been designated as Wild and Scenic."
Should they be allowed to deviate from their charter requirement without further regulation? What will the fate of the Farmington River and its fish and wildlife be? Were all the reassuring facts provided by MDC during the Niagara debate so re-assuring now that we are in the THIRD year of a CT drought? Should we be making sure CT has enough water for its residents, businesses and environment before allocating it to an out-of-state corporation for bottling and shipment out of state? What do YOU think?
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.