Interconnection grant sought to back up region's water systems

Norwich - The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments is seeking a grant for a proposed water interconnection that could bolster the region's system for transporting water in the event of storms or emergencies.

The council voted Wednesday to apply for a grant for a proposed pipe along Route 12 that would connect an existing water main in Preston, operated by Norwich Public Utilities, with one in Ledyard, operated by Groton Utilities.

The region's current system to transport water includes a large water interconnection under the Thames River that connects communities on the east and west of the river. This interconnection both provides water to Montville and the Mohegan Tribe and links the municipal water supply systems of Groton, Norwich and New London, according to a SCCOG document.

Municipalities that include Groton, Ledyard, Norwich, Montville, Waterford, New London and East Lyme have also worked on emergency response plans for sharing water resources in the event of an emergency, according to the council's project description.

Since the emergency plans often rely on the main interconnection under the Thames River, SCCOG said the proposed pipe is important because it could provide a backup to the interconnection in the event of an emergency.

"The proposed Southeastern Connecticut Emergency Water Interconnection will provide the region's water systems with a vitally needed second connection with additional hydraulic capacity in the event of the need to move water from system to system," the project description states, "and will also provide an invaluable second access point in the event the Thames River crossing were to be compromised for any reason such as during a storm event."

The pipe between Preston and Ledyard was part of original plans from 2002 for the Thames Basin Regional Water Interconnection Project, the interconnection system that runs across the Thames River. While the project was built, plans for the pipe between Preston and Ledyard were ultimately scrapped due to a lack of funding, according to SCCOG.

"In the event of a storm, this connection would be very, very important for the folks that are on the public water system in that area," said James Butler, the council's executive director, in a presentation to the council on Wednesday.

The grant application, which SCCOG voted to support at Wednesday's meeting, is for $637,500 from a Community Development Block Grant, a federal grant distributed through the state's Department of Housing. NPU would fund the remaining 25 percent of the $850,000 project, according to SCCOG.

The grant possibility was announced in July for public improvements to strengthen infrastructure after Superstorm Sandy, Butler said.

If the grant is approved, NPU would likely own the water main and SCCOG would be the grant recipient, but the details still need to be worked out, Butler said.

k.drelich@theday.com
Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

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