Water is a vital resource and also a local one, so the horrid droughts afflicting the far West have no immediate impact on the Northeast. Nonetheless, Connecticut should pay attention.
Drought can happen here, especially in an era of increased climate volatility. And if Connecticut were to be hit by drought, residents would soon realize that we have no state water plan.
This state needs such a plan, to protect and sustain its water supply, support the economy and protect riparian habitat. We have more momentum for such a plan today than we've had in decades. Let's get it done.
That there is no statewide water management plan came to light a year ago when the University of Connecticut considered (but later rejected) the idea of piping water from Metropolitan District Commission reservoirs in the Farmington Valley to the University of Connecticut's Storrs campus in eastern Connecticut to augment its water supply.
This idea incurred strong criticism from residents of the Farmington Valley, who feared it would have a negative impact on the Farmington River. MDC officials said it wouldn't, though the issue was never resolved to residents' satisfaction.
State Rep. John K. Hampton, D-Simsbury, saw the need for a water plan. He helped organize a water summit in the fall, which led to a major conference and workshop recently at the UConn School of Law. Among the things gleaned from the conference was that water planning is difficult, because a lot of interests compete. Good data are essential, as are public engagement and regional coordination. Support from the top is also vital; Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spoke at the conference and is on board.
Connecticut has been talking about a water plan for nearly a half-century. It has made progress — excellent clean water standards, stream flow regulations, etc. — but has not gotten a state water plan done. Perhaps there's been no sense of urgency, because the state has been lucky with annual rainfall.
If the state has the foresight to get the plan done before there is a crisis, if it has conservation measures already in place, the crisis won't be as bad as it otherwise might be.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun