News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 22, 2021
Stonington to truck in water amid drought, heavy usage
Water in standpipe getting low

The water company is preparing to truck in 200,000 gallons of water to tide its customers over for the summer as drought and heavy usage cause the level in the standpipe to drop.

The select board on July 19 voted to authorize the company to spend up to $25,000 to bring in the water. Though it will only cost about 11 cents per gallon, the transportation will probably bring the total tab to $20,000.

“I’m pretty confident that will take us through the summer,” said Annaleis Hafford, the Olver Associates engineer who oversees the Stonington Water Company.

Hafford told the select board the level in the standpipe is just under 26 feet. When the water level reaches 25 feet, the water company has to truck in water to ensure adequate supply, she said. The water shipment should add another 20 feet.

Water worries

The town’s water customers have been under a mandatory conservation order since June 29. Despite recent rain, conditions in Hancock County are still abnormally dry, according to the drought monitor by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Our problems are very much because of the drought,” Hafford said.

But two more factors are causing water woes: leaks and heavy usage by an influx of summer visitors.

A single toilet that ran for six days cost an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 gallons of water, Hafford said. Outside faucets left open have also exacerbated the problem.

A busy tourist season adds to the pressure on the water company, as well. “I don’t remember a year when we’ve had this many services on,” Hafford said. “A lot of people are eating, the restaurants seem to be full.”

The water company superintendent, Bill Shepard, said he’s gone around to inns and restaurants asking them to cut down their water usage. Most have been receptive, he told the select board. The Island Agency has alerted its rental customers to the water shortage, but some renters resist conserving, Shepard said.