NEW BRITAIN - It would take about $1 million to prepare Patton Brook Well for regular use, a city official told water board commissioners Wednesday night.
The hotly debated well was tested over a two-week period recently and was able to pump 1 million gallons a day, said Ray Esponda, acting Water Department director. But it would take about $1 million worth of work to get the well upgraded to be able to pump to city water reserves throughout the area, he said.
“The water from the well can only be pumped to the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir since the existing pump is quite old and was not designed to provide the power needed to reach the Wasel Reservoir,” Esponda said.
The well also cannot be used when water from the city’s reservoir in Wolcott is flowing, he said. “This is due to the fact that the well and the Wolcott reservoir share a common pipeline,” Esponda said. “This is a problem due to the fact that the elevation difference between the two is quite substantial and as such the pressure in the pipeline is too great for the well’s pump to overcome.”
But the restrictions on the use of the well would be overcome with a $1 million upgrade, which would allow the well to pump to any of the city’s reservoirs, Esponda said.
The testing of the well comes at a time when the city is waiting for an environmental report from Lenard Engineering on Tilcon’s proposal to mine New Britain Water Department Class I and Class II protected watersheds that feed Shuttle Meadow Reservoir.
Under the plan, Tilcon would mine 131 acres toward Bradley Mountain in Southington including the watersheds for 40 to 50 years and then turn the quarry into a reservoir for the city of New Britain. Tilcon would pay the city for the mining rights. A similar plan was defeated in 2008.
The final report on the environmental study is not slated to be completed until December. The project and the proposed sale of the Patton Brook Well to the Southington Water Department have been contested by environmentalists and activists.
The Common Council agreed to sell the well to Southington in the summer of 2016 when the area was gripped in a months-long drought. The sale had to be approved by the state’s Department of Public Health, which declined to take up the matter for months.
Mayor Erin Stewart announced in April that she was pulling the application for the sale from the table. Meanwhile, the city was forced to buy about $400,000 worth of water from the Metropolitan District Commission to help make up for the city’s depleted reservoirs - a fact that angered environmentalists and some council members who had voted against the sale.
The well can provide 1.2 million gallons of water a day. City officials were willing to sell the well to the Southington Water Department for $1 million. Stewart had estimated last year that it would cost about $1 million to get the well operational again.
The Southington Water Department had leased the well from the New Britain Water Department for decades until the lease ran out in 2014. At the time, city officials were considering restoring the connection for use by the New Britain Water Department but the plan was scuttled. But Esponda said the water department tested the well in September to determine its condition and if could be used if needed.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.