New London Mayor Lifts State of Emergency After Massive Water Leak

Mayor urges residents not to stockpile water.

New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has lifted a state of emergency after a massive water leak caused problems in New London and Waterford on Thursday.

The leak sprung Thursday morning in a large 20-inch cast-iron transmission main, according to public utilities director Joseph Lanzafame. When the leak was detected, New London was losing water at a rate of 10 million gallons per day, or 8,000 gallons per minute. Finizio said the city requires a water supply of 7 million gallons each day.

Crews worked throughout the day to repair the leak, which had been 90 percent contained by Thursday evening. What officials feared could have turned into a widespread and long-term loss of water became a localized concern, Finizio said.

When the leak was detected, the city was losing water at a rate of 10 million gallons per day, or 8,000 gallons a minute.To put it in perspective, Finizio said the supply to the city of New London is 7 million gallons of water a day.

He declared a partial state of emergency and urged residents to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of a widespread and long-lasting disruption to the water supply. The public utilities director issued a mandatory water restriction for New London and Waterford, which applies to all nonessential water use.

The mayor said he learned of the problem around 6:30 a.m. However, officials believe the leak developed quickly around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, public utilities director Joseph Lanzafame said.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Dannel Malloy partially activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center to monitor and manage any issues that might arise because of the water main break.

Water pressure in the city has stabilized and city officials believe they have averted the worst-case scenario, but the mayor asked residents and business to conserve water and to avoid stockpiling water, which would only add to the problem.

Fort Trumbull was closed because of the problem, but has since reopened, according to an e-mail from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The repair process includes inserting an "inflatable bladder" in the line, designed to shut off the affected area and restore water. The excavation work will take longer, Finizio said.

The problem was identified in the nick of time, according to the mayor. It would have been much worse had it been detected an hour later. Fire officials said they were prepared for backup if necessary and a tanker task force was available.

The cause of the problem is unknown, but Finizio said significant flash flooding in the last 24 hours could have contributed to the problem.

If you see discolored water, low water pressure or an odd odor, please call 860-447-5222.

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