Norwalk Declares a Water Emergency

Norwalk has declared a water emergency after receiving about 30 inches of rain compared to its usual 55 inches.

Norwalk Declares a Water Emergency
A look at the reservoir levels in Norwalk. (Courtesy of Norwalk)

Due to historically low levels of rainfall, Mayor Harry Rilling has declared a water emergency in the city and urged residents and businesses to curb their water usage.

"While we’ve received more rain recently, it has not been enough to replenish the water supplies we need,” Rilling said in a statement. “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.”

On average, the city usually receives more than 55 inches of rain per year. As of September 30, just 30 inches of rain have fallen.

Rilling said the conservation measures are “necessary steps we must take to help our City preserve water supplies and mitigate potential harm.”

In order to do this, the city is prohibiting the following activities while the water emergency is in effect:

  • 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.

Police officers will first issue a warning if a violation is found, but failure to comply will result in the issuance of a fine not to exceed $90 per day for each day the violation exists.

Eleanor Militana, general manager and the district clerk for the First Taxing District, which provides water to more than 40,000 residents and businesses in Norwalk and areas of New Canaan, Wilton, and Westport, said that they need “everyone’s help to reduce water use” at this time.

“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,” Militana said in a statement. “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.”

The officials ask residents to take the follow steps to help reduce water use:

  • Take shorter showers and skip baths
  • Wash only 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
  • 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
  • Switch from a hose to a broom for cleaning your patio.