Alderman Questions Stewart on Well Sale in Light of Water Supply Alert

By Emmanuel (Manny) Sanchez

In both a press release and an NBC interview roughly two weeks ago, Mayor Erin Stewart stated we are in a “first water alert”. But all facts and statistics show that we’ve been in one since May. I was also informed that the City was at 39.72% capacity when that press release came out. Recently, a colleague, and environmentalist, expressed to me that this means we are very close to being in (if not already in) a Water Supply Emergency-Phase II (at less than 35% of capacity). There are five Drought Response Stages and we could potentially be nearing the fourth one!

As many of you know, the mayor supported and approved the sale of the Patton Brook Well for one million dollars several months ago. Now Mayor Stewart is looking to sell off another water resource! The Board of Water Commissioners has unanimously approved the sale of 15.08 acres of watershed property in Burlington to a developer for a price of no less than $252,000.

Given the City’s alleged $14million surplus, why is it necessary to sell off a valuable commodity like water? We do not need to balance the budget and even if we did, best practices recommend using operating revenue, not with a one-time asset liquidation of the City’s finite water resources. Eventually you run out of assets to sell.

We should not be in the business of selling any assets, especially a natural resource like water- which is diminishing in quantity and increasing in value daily. People are racing to control water assets, and yet the Mayor of New Britain and The Board of Water Commissioners are practically giving them away. These actions by the Mayor and The Board of Water Commissioners are irresponsible.

We need to have a discussion about sustainability and how the City can better utilize its resources. While there will be those who say water is not “earning” the City anything at the moment, its value in the near future is proving to be significantly greater than any dollar amount.

I encourage people to ask questions and challenge the sale of the City’s watershed properties.

Emmanuel (Manny) Sanchez is an Alderman, representing the Third Ward on the City Council of New Britain.