Stewart Admits to Water Supply Alert

Press pool story

water100aJust one day after the New Britain Independent broke the news that New Britain is in a “water supply alert” due to low capacity in the city’s reservoirs, Erin Stewart, the city’s mayor, has admitted to the alert condition.

As the Independent reported, New Britain Deputy Public Works Director for Utilities, Gil Bligh reported to the city’s Board of Water Commissioners on September 13th that New Britain reservoirs were at “52.9% capacity as of August 31, 2016”, as compared with the historical of 72% of capacity and a 67.5% water supply level just last year. Stewart’s own press release says that, “The reservoirs are currently at around 39.72 percent capacity, according to Bligh.”

Though Stewart’s announcement of the water supply alert condition was on October 12th, city records show that the city was well aware of the water supply alert during the time that City Council was considering Stewart’s proposal to sell New Britain’s Patton Brook Well for, it has been observed, a far lower price than it is worth. While public knowledge of the alert status of the city’s water supply may have further elevated public concern about selling the well, capable of producing 1.2 million gallons of clean drinking water a day, Stewart gave no explanation for the delayed announcement.

The City Council voted to approve Stewart’s proposal to sell the Patton Brook Well on August 10th, a little over a month prior to the September 13th meeting of the New Britain Board of Water Commissioners at which city water officials noted that the water supply alert condition existed during August. But the water alert existed far before that. The New Britain Herald, reporting on Stewart’s October 12th press release, noted, “Minutes of the past several Water Commission meetings indicate that the city has been at water supply alert stage since May due to the below average amount of rain since April.”

While Stewart attempted to downplay the significance of the water supply alert status, she did, “urge residents to take voluntary water conservation measures, such as limiting the watering of things like lawns, gardens, driveways, and sidewalks.” She also admitted that the city has not faced such an alert in nearly nine years, but she offered no explanation for urging residents not to water their lawns and gardens in October for a water supply alert condition known to city officials during the entire summer.

Editorial note: A correction was made to the original edit of this article, which incorrectly said that August 10th City Council vote was “just three days” prior to the September 13th Board of Water Commissioners meeting.