With drought conditions persisting and too little precipitation forecast for the foreseeable future, Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino today signed an order declaring a temporary 30-day public water supply emergency for the City of Waterbury. The City’s Water Bureau provides water to residents and businesses in Waterbury and sells water to portions of Middlebury, Wolcott and Watertown. Late last week, the City informed DPH that its water supply reservoirs are approaching critically low levels and requested the emergency declaration.

DPH, in consultation with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), determined that the declaration was necessary to prevent further depletion of the water supply. This order will allow the City of 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. In order to move to the lower level, the City must institute mandatory water conservation measures and demonstrate to DPH that it is maximizing the use of all current water sources. To view the Commissioner’s Declaration and Order, please click here.

This is the second public water system in as many months to request a declaration to allow the system to take extraordinary steps in order to ensure an adequate supply of drinking water for areas facing a substantial depletion of their public water supply as a result of ongoing drought conditions. The first, Aquarion Water Company (AWC), was granted an emergency order on September 29th in order to divert water from other areas of its system to the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan. Yesterday, an amended order was issued to AWC to allow further diversion to the four towns.

"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," said Commissioner Pino. 

The DPH order places several conditions that Waterbury must meet for the duration of the public water supply emergency. Those conditions 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 and assist users with identifying ways to reduce usage; and providing several weekly reports to DPH, DEEP, and local health departments on water supply measurements, effectiveness of conservation practices, communications with town and local health officials in the affected towns, results of water quality monitoring, and information on the managed daily water release into the Shepaug River.

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.