Waterbury’s water supply at lowest level in 36 years, but it could get worse

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WATERBURY--The entire state is currently under a drought watch, with most areas falling in the "severe drought" zone.

Waterbury is no exception. The city's water supply is at just 46 percent capacity as of Wednesday.

According to the Waterbury Water Department, the supply -- a reservoir in Thomaston -- is losing roughly 2-3 percent capacity each week. Waterbury Water Supervisor Chris Bogucki said the capacity level has not been this low since 1980.

If the water level drops below 40 percent, the city will issue a drought warning.

"At the next stage, we'd be looking at installing pumping equipment in our reservoirs to access the amount of water that's below our normal intakes," said Bogucki.

If the level dips down below 30 percent, Waterbury will declare a drought emergency. At that point, all commercial car or truck washes would have to cease operations, and residents would not be able to top off swimming pools. Restaurants would have to use paper plates and plastic utensils, and industrial businesses would be asked to consider a four-day work week. Bogucki said reaching that level depends on how much water customers use and how much rain we get.

Waterbury homeowner Walt Belsito said the drought has burned his lawn, making the house tougher to sell.

"When we were trying to show the house, you pulled up and you'd just see brown," said Belsito. "And we lived here 14 years. Every year it was green."

Across town, Personal Touch Car Wash in Waterbury is still doing well.

"Business has been good," said manager James Dumont. "It's been steady. We haven't seen it go up or down."

Under the current drought watch, an outdoor water ban prevents residents from mowing their lawns or washing their cars. Car washes are able to better conserve water.

"We have a water reclamation system," said Dumont. "[It] filters the water, reuses it a couple of times. That way, you're able to save more water, save the environment."

The Water Department is also urging residents to conserve water inside their homes by checking toilets for leaks and turning off the water while brushing teeth or shaving.