Temporary water pipeline being built in southwest corner to alleviate drought emergency

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HARTFORD — The Department of Public Health has announced a temporary plan to bring relief to the drought-striken southwest corner of the state.

Following the end of September declaration of a public water supply emergency for four Fairfield County towns served by Aquarion Water Company, the Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday that it was bringing in two new sources of water.

The towns affected are Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan, and Aquarion will now have the authority to divert water from another water source to supply the region. The company also has the authority now to build a temporary water pipeline to help deliver water to the four towns.

The emergency declaration was requested by Aquarion in September and allowed the company to divert water from other sources of supply to the four towns which face a substantial depletion of their public water supply as a result of the drought conditions. The new order just gives yet another source for Aquarion to divert from.

DPH,  the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection  and the Public Utility Regulatory Authority determined that the emergency declaration in September was necessary to prevent further depletion of the water supply.

“This is not a step that the Department of Public Health takes lightly or frequently, but it is clear that despite water conservation efforts taken by Aquarion and its customers, diversion of water from other areas in Aquarion’s water supply in addition to continued mandatory water conservation measures is necessary to avert a much larger water crisis in these towns,” said Commissioner Raul Pino at the time.

The state itself is at lower-than-normal water capacities, with just 78.5 percent of “normal.”

The order means restrictions for Aquarion during the 30 day period:

  • Aquarion can’t add new customers without prior approval by DPH
  • It must continue mandatory outdoor watering bans for the CT and NY towns
  • The company will be required to provide weekly public notifications on water supplies for the affected towns.
  • It must continue to perform a water audit of its top 20 largest water users in the affected towns and assist users identifying ways to reduce usage.
  • It will provide several weekly reports to DPH, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and local health departments on water supply measurements, effectiveness of conservation practices, communications with town and local health officials in both the CT and NY-affected towns, results of water quality monitoring, and information on daily water diversion totals.