To The Editor:
I read with interest the comments of Ramon Esponda, New Britain’s Acting Deputy Director of Public Works-Utilities Division, in response to the Water Plannning Council’s finding that the Lenard Engineering study on a change in use of Class I and II protected watershed to allow it to be strip mined by Tilcon does not substantiate the need for the proposed new reservoir or, in fact, that the proposed new reservoir would even be a viable public water storage facitily, and the proposal’s risks to our current water system and the environment are significant.
Vigorousy promoting this proposal, Esponda talks about the City’s need (and cost) to purchase water from the Metropolitan District Commission during the recent prolonged drought. What he fails to mention is the city’s response to the drought. The minutes of the New Britain Board of Water Commissioners indicate the City was in either a Water Supply Alert, Water Supply Advisory, or a Phase I or II Water Supply Emergency from November, 2015 through January 2016, and then from May, 2016 through Aprl, 2017.
When I indicated at a May, 2017 New Britain Board of Water Commissioners meeting there had been virtually no prouncements to the public to conserve water during the prolonged drought, Mr. Esponda responded referencing a press conference city leadership (Mayor Stewart) had with Governor Malloy on October 28, 2016, and that Mayor Stewart “utilized social media to post on September 7, 2016 that the city had entered the first phase of drought.”
The city had been in a drought since May, 2016, and the Mayor’s first public prouncement was five months later (9/7/16) via “social media,” followed by a Press Release seven months (10/12/16) into the drought. That’s inadeqaute and inexcusable.
In contrast, in the summer of 2016 Southington put in place voluntary, and in some instances, mandatory water conservation efforts. At the time New Britain was buying water from the MDC Fred Rogers, Southington’s then Water Director said it was in no hurry to go through with the possible Patton Brook purchase because it had an “ample water supply,” as it notified residents at the outset of the drought about the need to conserve.
New Britain’s failure to notify the public (during the high consumption summer months) forced the city to buy water from the MDC, an expense which could (and should) have been avoided.
Esponda recently admitted to the Council on Environmental Quality (which has also panned the proposal) that the city didn’t handle conservation measures well during the drought, that it didn’t ask residents to conserve until about six months in when water stores were about 30 percent (that’s a “Water Supply Emergency-Phase II’ per the City’s Drought Response Stages), and “action should have been taken much prior to that” (See his comments in the New Britain Herald, June 8, 2018, “New Britan defends study of Tilcon plan, need for water”).
This isn’t about water, it’s about Tilcon getting a quarry.
Paul E. Zagorsky