The University has made significant improvements to its water supply infrastructure that will enable it to reduce reliance on the Fenton River wellfields during dry weather conditions.
The improvements include repairs to its transmission main that will permit pumping larger volumes of water from the University's primary water supply source, the wellfields along the Willimantic River.
Since that river is more robust in periods of drought than the Fenton River is, the new pipes will allow the University to rely on the Willimantic River more heavily.
Last summer, the Fenton River ran dry during a period of severe drought.
A recently completed analysis made a number of recommendations about pumping water from the Fenton River wellfields.
Most of them already are being implemented, says Thomas Callahan, interim associate vice president for operations.
The analysis was prepared by Glenn Warner, associate professor of natural resources management and engineering; Amvrossios Bagtzoglou, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Fred Ogden, a former UConn engineering professor; and Piotr Parasiewicz, assistant research professor at the University of Massachusetts.
"The University has been working closely with the state departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health and the Connecticut Water Planning Council," Callahan says, "to agree on a series of actions to further strengthen the operations of the water supply system and the protection of water resources."
He says the University is also working with the Town of Mansfield on a master plan that will review alternatives to solely having the University own, manage, and operate both the water supply and the wastewater treatment systems.
UConn's systems serve not only the University but also town offices and many private residences and businesses near the campus.
The ability to expand those systems could make it easier for the town to allow further business development in Mansfield.
"It is unusual for a university to own and operate these systems," Callahan says
. "Our master planning effort with the Town of Mansfield will review system conditions and capacities and evaluate alternative operational ownership and governance options for both the water and the wastewater systems."
The UConn water system has been operated, managed, and maintained since last summer through a contract between the University and New England Water Utility Services, an affiliate of the Connecticut Water Co.