The summer of 2020 was been filled with sunny days. With that has come consequences as many Connecticut communities are dealing with drought conditions.
In New Britain Wednesday there was sporadic light rain, but officials want much more than just a passing shower.
“Unfortunately, it just hasn’t rained as much as we had hoped for,” said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart.
Citing abnormally low levels of rainfall, Stewart said New Britain’s seven reservoirs have dipped to 57% capacity, a level the city describes as being below historic averages. Subsequently, New Britain is asking residents to voluntarily cut their water usage by 10%.
“We really need to be more conscious about conservation right now because every gallon saved is a gallon that we’re going to need later on,” said Stewart.
New Britain’s Board of Water Commissioners is asking residents to use water wisely. Residents who spoke with NBC Connecticut seem to agree.
“Right now, it’s bad,” said Miguel Rodriguez. “A lot of people are not taking seriously what’s going on with the water.”
To save water, the city offered suggestions. Limit irrigation and only water lawns at night. Use car washes that recycle water. Use washing machines only at full capacity. Take showers rather than baths and make them short.
“Myself, I always try to save my water because the water belongs to everybody. It’s not for only me,” said Mohammed Rahatkhan.
It’s not just New Britain. On Monday, state officials raised the drought level in four different counties to level three. This is on a scale of one to five. Among those are Tolland, Windham, New London and Hartford County.
“The entire state is looking at drought conditions,” said Martin Heft, the chair of the state’s Interagency Drought Workgroup.
Heft said the state hasn’t been at this level since 2016, largely because of a lack of substantial steady rainfall.
“It’s not affecting the ground water table. It’s not affecting agriculture. It’s not affecting the stream flow because it’s a quick run off,” Heft explained.
Meanwhile, in New Britain, officials said conservation will continue to be voluntary unless the reservoirs reach 55% at which point restrictions could become mandatory. Stewart estimated it would take two to three more weeks without rain to reach that point.
“We’re not necessarily there just yet but as long as people are doing their part to conserve, we should be ok,” she said.
Stewart said the city does have an agreement with MDC and could purchase water, but that is something the city would prefer to avoid.
“Am I worried that we’ll run out of water? No,” Stewart said. “But we want to be able to use our own and not have to pay for it from other locations.”