UConn calls for mandatory and voluntary water conservation during extreme drought in CT

On November 28, UConn has lifted a Stage IV Water Supply Emergency but remains in a Stage III Water Supply Warning. (File photo)

On Nov. 28, the University of Connecticut lifted a Stage IV Water Supply Emergency that has been effective since September. However, the university remains in a Stage III Water Supply Warning, also issued in September, which calls for both mandatory and voluntary measures of water conservation across campus, according to a notice in Monday’s UConn Daily Digest.

While UConn does typically issue some type of water conservation notice, especially during the summer months, this is the first time the university has experienced a Stage IV Water Supply Emergency. This increase in severity of the conservation notice is due to the statewide drought currently in effect for Connecticut, according to UConn’s Director of Utility Operations and Energy Management Stanley L. Nolan.

About 44 percent of Connecticut is currently experiencing “Extreme Drought” conditions. Much of the state remains in a “Drought Watch,” with weather models predicting a total of only one-and-a-half inches of rain through early December, according to News 8 WTNH.  

Rainfall from the past few days has partially, but not fully, restored the flow of rivers near UConn’s wellfields. The university continues to monitor local and state-wide conditions and will update the UConn community as conditions change, according to the notice.

This slight improvement in water supply is the reason the Stage IV notice was called off on Monday. But more significant rainfall is needed to continue improving conditions, which is why the Stage III notice remains in effect, Nolan said.

“Due to drought conditions and our Stage III water conservation notice being in effect it is important for students, staff and faculty to continue to conserve water so we do not find ourselves in a water shortage situation,” Nolan said.

At this time, the university’s water supply is adequate enough to meet “current and forecasted system demands” and stands ready to meet emergency needs such as firefighting, according to the notice.

UConn has a Water Supply Plan in place, should the university ever fall below the threshold of adequate water supply. Procedures include other mandatory water conservation measures (in addition to the ones listed in this article) and purchasing water from the Connecticut Water Company (CWC), Nolan said.

“Per UConn’s Water Supply Plan, we are committed to operating an environmentally sustainable water supply system,” the notice said.

According to the notice, the following conservation measures are mandatory:

Lawn watering is limited to four hours or less per day, and only between the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Athletic fields are only allowed watering for two hours per day under those same conditions.

Public or private pools must be filled with water delivered from another source.

Motor vehicle washing is banned; the university’s wash bay is closed until further notice. The use of ornamental/display fountains are also banned, as is the use of hydrant sprinkler caps.

Washing streets, sidewalks, driveways and parking areas are banned unless directed by local public health authorities, and water main flushing is only allowed in cases of addressing water quality issues.

Using UConn water to control dust at construction sites is banned; contractors needing water for dust control are required to provide water from offsite.

According to the notice, the following conservation measures, while strongly encouraged, are voluntary:

Take shorter showers, and only run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads.

Use water only as needed when washing dishes, shaving and brushing teeth.

Avoid power washing buildings and washing vehicles via a public water source.

Raise the thermostat in UConn buildings, especially when leaving at night.

In addition to mandatory and voluntary measures, UConn is actively engaged in extensive conservation efforts, including renovating showers, sinks and toilets to ensure the latest automatic water flow technology to avoid running water when not in use, Nolan said.

“Thank you to all of our students, faculty and staff that respond so well to these voluntary notices and work with us to conserve this vital resource,” Nolan said.

Leaky fixtures in any UConn building should be reported immediately to UConn Facilities Operations at 486-3113.


Molly Stadnicki is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at molly.stadnicki@uconn.edu.