NEW BRITAIN – A City Council Democrat is seeking detailed information on how the city’s Water Department is handling the prolonged drought.
Emanuel Sanchez submitted two petitions last week seeking information on city water levels since December 2015, the drought response by water department officials and the cost of buying water from the Metropolitan District Commission. He wants the information in time for the April 26 council meeting, according to the documents.
“You can’t control Mother Nature,” Sanchez said Monday. But he does want an accounting of the water levels, the triggers for drought responses and what actions the Water Department took to respond to each trigger. “What I want to know is why we are in this position where we are on the lower end (in water capacity) than our neighbors,” he added.
Water policy became a major concern in New Britain last year as Central Connecticut felt the effects of a prolonged drought that started well before city officials proposed selling the Patton Brook Well to the Southington Water Department in August.
By November, the city had to purchase water from the Metropolitan District Commission because the capacity of its reservoirs was under 30 percent. Residents were not asked to conserve water until October.
Sanchez said he wants to make sure the city is being transparent about water levels and how the drought is handled. He said he wants to know what actions were taken by the Water Department as the drought lingered. Aldermen were under the impression the city had an abundance of water when the sale of the Patton Brook Well, which is in Southington, was proposed last summer.
Information drawn from the minutes from the monthly meetings of the Board of Water Commissioners shows the city has been under some type of drought alert, advisory or emergency since May 2016. The council voted to approve the sale of the well, which is capable of pumping 1.2 million gallons a day, in August.
The state Department of Health must sign off on the sale. It has been reviewing the sale since October.
Sanchez said he would like to review the requested documents to see if the city can come up with a plan to avoid future drought problems.
“Do we need to re-establish mechanisms to create public awareness?” Sanchez said. “I want to see how that was handled.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.