Apparent Leaky Pipes Arise As Issue in Debate on Mining Plan – Council Considers Hiring Firm to Study.

The City Council is set to consider a resolution to study what the state Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) said is, “what appears to be an increasingly leak-prone water distribution system,” in New Britain. The consultant hired under the resolution would study and offer recommendations on this, “unaccounted water.”

On May 25, 2018, the CEQ released their analysis of a report by Lenard Engineering on the plans by Republican Mayor Erin Stewart to allow strip-mining of New Britain’s protected drinking watershed land. The plan has been promoted with the claim the mining would leave behind a new “storage reservoir” for the city.

In its analysis, the CEQ was critical of the alleged need for such a “storage reservoir,” saying, “that the need for the additional water storage capacity is not established in the report. Its assumptions about increased demand and reduced supply posit the worst extremes of each.” Among the critiques raised by the CEQ in its May 25th analysis, it said that report by Lenard, “does not factor in a reduction in unaccounted-for water. New Britain’s loss of potable water during transmission is about 25% higher than the norm.”

The CEQ says that the Lenard report, “shows an ever-increasing amount of water that is unaccounted for over the last five years. This five-year average is masking what appears to be an increasingly leak-prone water distribution system.”

The Council resolution says that the city’s Board of Water Commissioners, who are appointed by Stewart, recommended the study on “unaccounted water” at its June 20, 2018 meeting, less than one month after the analysis by the CEQ was released.

At a June 26th public hearing in front of the City Council and the Board Water Commissioners, there was overwhelming public opposition to the plans to strip mine of the city’s drinking watershed being pressed forward by Stewart. Members of the public echoed concerns from the CEQ and another state key state commission, the Water Planning Council, that the mining plan may put the quality of drinking water at risk, while damaging the environment and perhaps creating new taxpayer costs.

Members of the public cited the potential for avoiding lost water as additional evidence that there is no need for a “storage reservoir” created by strip-mining the city’s watershed land.

The upcoming Council resolution would approve the recommendation by the city’s Utilities Division of the firm, CDM Smith, to carry out a study into the “unaccounted water.”

Under the resolution, the firm is to audit the city’s water distribution system, “to determine the causes and sources of the unaccounted water.” The firm is then to, “recommend what steps are needed to be taken to reduce the amount of unaccounted water.”

The resolution says, “The amount of unaccounted water is approximately twenty-three (23) percent and the industry standard is fifteen (15) percent.”

The measure was proposed by the Council Majority Leader, Ald. Carlo Carlozzi Jr. (D-5), Ald. Richard Reyes (D-AL), Ald. Jamie Giantonio (R-1), Ald. Emmanuel Sanchez (D-AL) and Ald. Daniel Salerno (R-AL).