(Norwalk, Conn.) Today, Mayor Rilling announced that he is declaring a Water Emergency for the City of Norwalk, effective Friday, October 7, 2022, at noon, due to ongoing drought conditions. This calendar year, Norwalk received historically low levels of rain, including the least amount of rain on record in 43 years. The persistent lack of rainfall directly affects Norwalk's reservoir levels and the water supply on hand. The Water Emergency will remain in effect until water reserves reach an acceptable level.
This announcement follows Mayor Rilling issuing a Drought Advisory for the City on July 15 in partnership with the First District Water Department and the South Norwalk Electric and Water Company (SNEW) due to lower-than-average precipitation rates and drier than normal conditions earlier this year.
"I'm declaring a Water Emergency due to historically low levels of rainfall this year that has directly impacted our reservoir levels," said Mayor Harry Rilling. "While we’ve received more rain recently, it has not been enough to replenish the water supplies we need. In July, I issued a Drought Advisory and asked everyone to do their part to conserve water given the lack of rainfall and your efforts made a noticeable difference. However, the persistent lack of rainfall has put our water resources in a precarious position. I am now issuing mandatory water conservation measures to prevent a much larger water crisis. While unfortunate, these are the necessary steps we must take to help our City preserve water supplies and mitigate potential harm. I want to thank everyone for their continued efforts to conserve water and for their cooperation during this Water Emergency. Together, we will get through this."
Annually, Norwalk receives 57 inches of rainfall on average, but as of September 30, it has only received 30 inches. The City would need 27 inches of rain in the last three months to hit its annual average, which would require double the amount of rainfall Norwalk has received all year.
"The First Taxing District thanks Mayor Rilling for the City's help and support in declaring a Water Emergency during this serious drought period," said Eleanor Militana, General Manager and the District Clerk for the First Taxing District. "The District's reservoir levels are currently at 40%, which are the lowest that they have been in the last 50 years, exceeding the decreased levels during the 2016 drought. While we have seen a recent drop in consumption, rain levels are far below the normal average. If no significant rainfall is received in the near future, water supplies may reach dangerously low levels. We need everyone's help to reduce water use. Water conservation is important throughout the year but is critical at this point. We thank our customers and all Norwalk residents for their efforts in conservation during the drought."
"South Norwalk Electric and Water, in cooperation with the First Taxing District, Mayor Rilling's office and City of Norwalk Department of Health have been conducting public outreach about water conservation for months now," said Alan Huth, CEO & General Manager of South Norwalk Electric & Water (SNEW). "Some residents may have seen the electronic signs in several locations, messages on all our bills or on our websites. At this time, SNEW is requesting that all residents actively take steps to further reduce their water use. While recent rains and cooler temperatures have been welcome, they have been insufficient to make a meaningful improvement to the overall precipitation deficit."
The City is issuing the following activities as unlawful and prohibited during the Water Emergency:
- Sprinkling, watering, or irrigating of shrubbery, trees, lawns, grass, ground cover, and plants except when these items are intended for sale, are new plantings within the current season, or are new trees that have been planted within the past three years.
- Washing automobiles, trucks, or trailers except at automated facilities using no more than 45 gallons of potable water per vehicle.
- Washing or power-washing walks, driveways, buildings, pavement, porches, or other outdoor surfaces.
- Use of fire hydrants for purposes other than the protection of public safety by a public agency.
- Filling or draining ponds or lakes used for private or public recreational purposes.
- Knowingly allowing leaking internal plumbing fixtures or leaks on customer water lines.
Norwalk Police Officers will first advise violators to curtail prohibited activities. Failure to comply will result in the issuance of a fine not to exceed $90 per day for each day the violation exists.
These drought and reservoir conditions are not unique to Norwalk. Fairfield County and parts of Litchfield County are experiencing similar circumstances. For further information about the regional impacts of the drought across Connecticut and the Northeast, please visit the Northeast DEWS Drought Monitor at http://nedews.nrcc.cornell.edu/.
The City, the First District Water Department and SNEW remind residents to take the following steps to continue to help conserve water:
- Take shorter showers and skip baths altogether (a full bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water);
- Only wash full loads of laundry;
- Check for leaks around the house, including leaky toilets;
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator so you don't have to run the faucet while it cools;
- Stop rinsing dishes before you place them in the dishwasher;
- Take your car to the automatic car wash instead of washing it at home;
- Reuse water for your plants wherever you can;
- Apply mulch to plants, shrubs and ornamental trees to reduce water evaporation from the soil; and
- Switch from a hose to a broom for cleaning your patio.
You can find more tips on conserving water on the First District Water Department's website at https://www.firstdistrictwater.org/easy-ways-to-conserve-water, and SNEW's website at https://www.snew.org/conservation/conservation-tips/.