A Collaborative Approach To Water Resource Management
In an effort to relieve stress on Pomperaug River flows during periods of low stream flow, Town of Southbury, Heritage Village Water Company (HVWC) and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC) representatives forged a partnership with the support of Milone & MacBroom Engineering Consultants to develop pro-active approaches to reduce public water supply demands on the Pomperaug aquifer during important developmental stages for aquatic life. As a result, new and significant measures to protect flows in the Pomperaug River were announced in June.
The first measure is the HVWC Pomperaug River Low-flow Operations Plan (Low-flow Plan), which establishes three river discharge flows and low-flow mitigation thresholds to provide HWVC customers and private well owners with an increasing level of awareness on the status of river flow. Each mitigation threshold has a corresponding Action Level that requests water users to voluntarily comply with expanding water conservation measures.
The second measure is an agreement between HVWC and the CPV Towantic Energy Center that calls for the entire daily water supply demand of the CPV Towantic facility between July 1 and October 31 to come from Connecticut Water Company’s other water resources that are outside the Pomperaug basin. Reducing demand on the aquifer during the period of low-flow is a very positive step toward smartly balancing critical public water supply needs with the need to protect aquatic river health.
Faced with extended periods of little to no rain this summer and early fall, the Low-Flow Operations Plan was put into action four times this season and public communications were issued. The Town of Southbury, HVWC and PRWC worked together to broadcast flow alerts to Southbury residents and HVWC customers calling for increased voluntary water conservation as increasingly severe low flow thresholds were reached in July, August, and September.
The Low-flow Plan has stimulated positive dialogue with the project partners, and the public communications have garnered inquiries from watershed residents about reducing water use and with concern for the river. Based on the inquiries and feedback, this communication strategy proved effective in raising awareness about the river flow levels and the need for conservation.
The collaborative partnership approach and the science utilized to support development of the Low Flow Plan, as well as the effort to develop and secure regulatory approval for the revised Water Supply Agreement are being used as a model approach for other water systems throughout Connecticut and beyond. The Low Flow Plan project has been presented at professional conferences throughout New England including the 48th Annual Joint Meeting of the CT Section of the American Water Works Association and the Connecticut Water Works Association, the New England Water Works Association Water Resources and Sustainability Symposium, and the CT Water Planning Council Advisory Group.
The current Pomperaug River status and Action Levels can be viewed online at www.pomperaug.org/lowflowplan.
Heritage Village Water customers and private well owners can visit www.heritagevillagewater.com for water conservation tips.