Over 44% of the state in extreme drought conditions; New Britain to buy water from MDC

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NEW BRITAIN – The National Drought Mitigation Center announced nearly half the state is now in an “extreme drought” Thursday and those conditions led the city of New Britain to take extreme measures to increase its own water levels.

The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln said Thursday that 44.5 % of the state is in "extreme drought" conditions. The section of the state most impacted is in the western and central portion, covering most of Litchfield and Hartford counties. New London and Windham counties are largely under moderate drought conditions.

The drought has had numerous effects from dried up lakes, water restrictions, and increased drilling for wells. Streams and rivers are at record low flow. Reservoirs are also at low levels.

Starting December 1, New Britain will start buying water from the Metropolitan District Commission . It’s part of an agreement made between the city and MDC for emergency situations such as this. The last time New Britain had to exercise this right within its contract with MDC was back in 1964.

Currently, New Britain’s Shuttle Meadow Reservoir is at about 31.5% capacity, according to Gilbert Bligh, Deputy Director of New Britain’s Public Works’ Utilities Division.

For 30 days, New Britain will pump 6.5 million gallons a day from MDC. The city will determine its next step based on the amount of rainfall and reservoir levels

“If we still have below average rainfall then it will be an extended period of time to take more water from MDC,” said Bligh.

The problem is cost. The water department will be taking around $500,000 from its reserves for the 30 day period.

“Unfortunately, it’s not going to be like that forever, and unless we get some rain, we’re going to start taking additional measures,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. If pumping has to be extended or if MDC raises its rates, it could mean higher rates for New Britain residents. Those would be included in the city’s budget process for the upcoming year.

In the meantime, residents are still being asked to conserve water and reduce their consumption by 15% to help this dire situation become even worse.

Mayor Stewart said, “Please just be aware. Every time you turn your faucet on think about how much water you’re using and really try your best to conserve.”