Drought Preparedness and Response Plan
UPDATED October 2022
Following the drought of 2016, a Drought Preparedness and Response Plan (DPRP) was adopted by the Connecticut Water Planning Council and formulates the basis for action at the state, local, and water supply entities.
What is a Drought Preparedness and Response Plan?
A drought preparedness and response plan is designed to provide uniform procedures to be implemented during drought conditions and/or excessive demand to reduce water consumption. It is a systematic way to bring together state, water company, and local officials to respond to effectively to water shortages.
How does the plan work?
The DPRP is a five-stage plan following guidelines established by Water Planning Council.
Stage 1: Below Normal Conditions
- Activates preliminary preparedness
Stage 2: Incipient Drought (formerly Drought Advisory)
- Activates preparedness
Stage 3: Moderate Drought (formerly Drought Watch)
- Mandates voluntary water conservation
Stage 4: Severe Drought (formerly Drought Warning)
- Bans unnecessary outdoor water usage, with exceptions by permit
- Alternative water source preparedness
Stage 5: Extreme Drought (formerly Drought Emergency)
- Bans all outdoor watering
- Sets alternative water source provisions in motion
The full plan with detailed descriptions of each phase and its responses can be found here Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan 2022
The various stages are determined by levels of recent precipitation, longer term past precipitation, reservoir levels, various other indices, and fire danger. Each stage has directives for state, local, and water company responses. The Town uses these directives to establish a Greenwich-specific plan.
This plan is superior to previous plans as it allows the state to address localized drought conditions and drought conditions affecting the landscape, in addition to reservoirs. There are times when reservoir levels may be adequate, but our landscape has sustained long-term, below normal precipitation that necessitates specific protective action.
In Greenwich, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health have authority to enact mandatory water restrictions during times of water shortages. They do this under advisement from the Water Supply Team that includes the Conservation Director, Director of Health, Fire Chief, Emergency Management Director, First Selectman, Town Administrator, and the water company.
What if I have a well instead of being part of the public water utility?
During times of drought, Greenwich officials closely monitor information for both public and private supplies. Our Conservation Director and Fire Chief make recommendations to the First Selectman and Director of Health on both surface and groundwater sources. Town regulations allow for restrictions to be placed on all consumers, including those served by private wells.
What triggers the announcement of a Moderate Drought and its restrictions?
Water restrictions are announced when the reservoir storage falls below a certain level for that time of year and when long-range weather forecasts are not favorable and/or when conditions are abnormally dry impacting stream and groundwater levels. Excessively high consumption rates may also trigger an advisory. This stage encourages voluntary conservation and creates public awareness. It is also the time when public officials and water company officials meet to review the DPRP and prepare for additional action.
What types of mandatory restrictions are in the plan?
Mandatory restrictions take effect once a Severe Drought is declared. Restrictions become more stringent if the drought continues and we move through the different phases in the plan.
Severe Drought Declaration - is designed to reduce water usage Through mandatory restrictions which may include serving water to restaurant patrons only upon request, prohibiting the use of hoses for street, driveway, sidewalk and/or automobile washing, prohibition of watering golf course roughs, and the use of water for power washing. All businesses are required to have a written water conservation plan on the premises with a goal of 15% reduction in water use.
Drought Warning - imposes additional restrictions to reduce water usage by 20% including prohibiting the filling of residential swimming pools, and additional restrictions on watering lawns and landscaping. Business water conservation plans increases to 20%.
Extreme Drought – imposes additional restrictions to reduce water usage, including the prohibition of use of water for residential landscaping. Business water conservation plans increases to 25%.
The exact nature of the mandatory restrictions will be determined by the Board of Selectmen and/or the Board of Health based on recommendations from the Conservation Director, Director of Health, the Fire Chief, Emergency Management Director, and the water company.
How do I get more information on our water supply and/or the Drought Management Plan?
Officials will use the local media for updates on the water supply situation and what stage of the DPRP we are in. We will also update the Town’s website.
For additional information specific to Greenwich, you can contact any of the following staff:
Patricia Sesto, Conservation Director – 203-622-6461
Caroline Baisley, Director of Health – 203-622-7836
Joseph McHugh, Fire Chief – 203-622-3950
Dan Warzoha, Emergency Management Director – 203-622-2222