By JOHN GORALSKI
The Southington Water Department (SWD) is still avoiding words such as “water shortage” or “drought,” but that hasn’t kept them from taking action. With no forecast for significant rain in the near future, officials are taking proactive steps to avoid problems during the summer months.
The Quinnipiac River still hasn’t dropped to its lowest recorded levels, although officials are measuring closely as the waters continue to recede. Local wells have yet to go dry, and the town wells still have plenty of storage in case the lack of rain continues.
On Thursday, June 23, SWD officials requested a voluntary water restriction from Southington residents. On Monday, they changed it to a “mandatory” restriction as the water department looks to conserve the local water supply during the unusual warm weather conditions and lack of rainfall.
“We have to cut back to keep the water levels in the rivers safe and sound. That’s part of the DEEP plan,” said SWD assistant superintendent Bill Casarella. “There aren’t really fines involved yet, but we’re really hoping everyone adheres to it.”
Officials are requested that customers limit the amount of outside water use and adhere to an odd/even watering schedule. Under these restrictions, residents with an even street number are asked to limit non-essential uses of town water to even numbered days, while residents with an odd street number adhere to odd numbered days.
“Non essential” restrictions would apply to activities such as watering lawns, washing cars, and watering flowers.
“With the low rainfall we’re approximately 6.5 inches below normal, and we haven’t even reached an inch of rain yet for this month,” said Casarella. “We just want everybody to think when they use water. Less is better right now.”
The mandatory restrictions are already in place, and they are expected to continue until precipitation levels return to more normal levels. Casarella said that it would be helpful—even with the odd/even schedule—if residents restrict use during the heaviest demand hours, from the hours of 4 to 10, in the morning and afternoon.
“It’s a demand problem. It’s not a storage issue,” he said. “We have plenty of storage, but our heaviest demand is in the morning and when people get back from work. That’s when most people start watering.”
Casarella stressed that the local water levels have not reached any crisis point yet. The current restrictions are a proactive measure for conservation. The town tries to adhere to the Quinnipiac River Management Plan, so the SWD monitors information about regional waters to try to minimize any negative impact to the environment.
“When the level in the river reaches a certain point, we have to cut back production on our wells,” said Casarella. “We’re getting pretty close to that point. If people try not to use water in those high demand times, it would really help.”