Water supply is a global issue, but locally the issues hit closer to home when towns are trying to boost economic development – while at the same time, provide enough clean drinking water and sewage service.
Mansfield is currently trying to find ways to bring businesses back to the Four Corners area (Route 44 and 195), but one of the largest obstacles is water supply.
Willimantic is trying to “grow” its downtown, and at the same time, the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership is working on a major project that would create a whitewater park and tourist destination by tapping into the power of the Willimantic River.
Willimantic already has a small hydropower station operating on the river.
To learn more about regional decisions that will affect water supply in Tolland, Storrs/Mansfield, Coventry, Willington and Willimantic, come to the Water Supply Forum that will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. this Wednesday, May 11.
The forum, hosted by the Willimantic River Alliance, will be held at Storrs Community Church, 90 Tolland Turnpike (Route 195) in Coventry (the new church across the road from Pumpkin Paul’s Farm on Route 195).
According to Meg Reich, Vice President of the Willimantic River Alliance, representatives from the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Water Company (CWC), the Tolland Water Commission and the Mansfield Four Corners Sewer and Water Committee will make brief presentations from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. and will be available to answer questions from 6 p.m. until the end of the forum at 9 p.m.
There also will be plans and maps on display for the following:
- CT Water Company’s proposed regional pipeline
- UConn’s new five-year water supply plan, including water conservation and wellfield management plans
- Tolland Water Commission’s water diversion application to increase water drawn from their Willimantic River wellfield
- Mansfield Four Corners Sewer and Water Committee’s draft plan for a source of water for the RT 195/44 intersection
Drawing more from the Willimantic River
The Tolland Water Commission has applied for a water diversion permit to double its withdrawals from existing wells along the Willimantic River to continue to supply Tolland homes, schools and businesses south of I-84 into the future.
It would also connect with the Connecticut Water Company’s water pipeline, from Shenipsit Lake (which already serves the Tolland Green area north of I-84) for a back-up emergency water source.
The Willimantic River Alliance suggests that the CWC could create a new regional water supply pipeline if it were to connect with the Tolland system south of I-84.
At Four Corners and UConn
A new pipeline from Tolland to Storrs-Mansfield extending along Route 195 could not only provide backup water for Tolland’s water supply needs, it could also meet the needs for water at Four Corners and the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the Alliance suggests.
A new well along the Willimantic River or interconnection with an existing piped water supply are options for Four Corners, according to a draft plan currently under review.
UConn also recently prepared a new five-year water supply plan for the Storrs and Mansfield Depot campuses and areas adjacent to the campus.
The draft March 2011 plan calls for an integrated approach to managing its wellfields along the Fenton and Willimantic Rivers.
It also explores water conservation measures, including a reclaimed water facility to recycle treated wastewater from their sewage treatment plant to use as cooling water for their central utility plant and irrigation water for campus athletic fields.
The Alliance notes that the plan acknowledges that there is a greater demand for even more water during dry summers, so a new additional source of water is needed.
Potential sources include a new well along the Willimantic River or an interconnection with an existing piped water supply… the same options as for the Four Corners area.
All of these projects involve the Willimantic River, its watershed and aquifers.
They will affect not only the towns where they are planned, Tolland and Mansfield, but also adjacent towns, the Alliance notes.
Coventry Village needs more water, and may also need a new well along the Willimantic River; Mansfield and Coventry officials have met to consider sharing a well.
Tolland’s water was extended to Willington’s Hall Memorial School on Route 32 two summers ago.
CWC’s proposed regional pipeline could result in demand for more intense development along the pipeline’s corridor, affecting land not only in Tolland and Storrs-Mansfield, but in Coventry and Willington, the Alliance suggests.
The pipeline would involve transferring significant amounts of water from the Hockanum River watershed to the Willimantic River watershed.
UConn’s reclaimed water facility would recycle water, but also reduce the amount of water flowing into the Willimantic River.
Towns need to work together
All of these water diversions need to be evaluated to make sure there is a good balance of water for people and for aquatic life, the Alliance notes.
Addressed separately, these water supply decisions could be uncoordinated and could result in unintended consequences, the Alliance states.
The Willimantic River Alliance is advocating for a coordinated regional approach where all of the parties can explore solutions with mutual benefits and minimal adverse consequences.
In an effort to provide the public with more information on these important projects and to foster the communication which a regional approach will require, the WRA is hosting this water supply forum
For more information, visit the Web site at www.willimanticriver.org Or call Meg Reich at 860-455-0532
Posted May 8, 2011
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