Tuesday’s heavy rainfall was a welcome sight for Connecticut but it will take many more similar storms to save us from drought conditions, a state official said.
Between the rain that fell Tuesday and the additional precipitation that is expected to fall on Wednesday, the state should receive about 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain, said Douglas Glowacki, emergency management program specialist for the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).
“This rainfall has provided some short-term relief,” Glowacki said. “However it has not ended the drought.”
He said many more storms of the same magnitude will be necessary to refill the rivers, reservoirs and groundwater tables.
In October, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state officials asked Connecticut residents to take the lack of rain seriously, saying one of the best ways to combat drought conditions is taking shorter showers, shutting off water while brushing teeth, and doing fewer loads of laundry.
Glowacki said the governor’s appeal to residents and businesses to conserve water has “had some beneficial impact,” but added that “it can be difficult to determine the level of benefit in the short-term.”
On Tuesday, Aquarion, which serves the southwestern portion of the state from Bridgeport to Greenwich, urged its customers to cut back on indoor water use by 20 percent.
Aquarion’s reservoirs are between 15 and 60 percent of capacity.
Connecticut issued its first-ever Drought Watch in October for counties in western and central Connecticut, including Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, Tolland and New Haven counties. Those counties are being asked to reduce their use of water by 15 percent. Windham and New London counties are under a Drought Advisory and being asked to reduce their water usage by 10 percent.
“Unless we see significant additional rainfall of several additional inches during the next seven days the drought watches and advisories are likely to stay in place,” Glowacki said.
The good news is that winter is around the corner.
“Fortunately we do expect an active winter with many additional snowstorms during the next four months,” Glowacki said.
He said precipitation over the last three winters has averaged 115 percent, while the spring, summer and fall season have averaged only 73 percent of normal since June 2014.
But conservation will still be necessary in the winter.
“It is very important for people to conserve water because this allows the reservoirs to fill more quickly,” Glowacki said. “The drought may take a break this winter as it has during the past three years and we need to take advantage of the break if it occurs.”
He said Connecticut residents can’t be complacent.
Residents and businesses served by public water suppliers are being urged to follow any advice or requests from their supplier and municipalities, as conditions will vary across the state.
Residents and businesses supplied by groundwater wells should be aware of any local ordinances in place regarding water usage restrictions, and should conserve water to reduce the potential stress on their wells, neighboring wells, and on the environment.
To date, 20 water companies have requested voluntary conservation or imposed mandatory restrictions. A continually updated list of these water companies is available on the Department of Public Health’s website.
While this is the state’s first Drought Watch, lower-level Drought Advisories were previously declared in 2002, 2007, 2010, and earlier this year. A Drought Watch is the second of four stages of drought defined in the Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan.