The UConn Storrs and Depot campuses enjoy very high-quality drinking water that comes from a combination of on campus drinking water wells and off-campus surface and groundwater sources maintained by the Connecticut Water Company, a Connecticut licensed water utility. Information below describes the UConn water supply in greater detail.
Level A Aquifer Mapping
The “Level A” maps prepared by UConn outline the aquifer protection areas surrounding its water supplies along the Willimantic and Fenton Rivers. These maps were approved by the CT DEEP Aquifer Protection Program. Also, the Town of Mansfield and the Town of Coventry have incorporated the UConn aquifer protection areas into their municipal mapping.
UConn serves as the potable water provider to its Storrs and Depot campuses, as well as portions of the surrounding town of Mansfield. While UConn is not considered a “water company” per the Connecticut General Statutes, the University chooses to comply with the relevant state statutes and Department of Public Health regulations. The contract operator for the water system is the Connecticut Water Company (CWC) through its subsidiary, New England Water Utility Services, which provides the day-to-day operation of the system and the compliance with state and federal water quality standards. CWC’s contract was recently renewed in 2020 and they continue as UConn’s contract operator at this time. Presently, water is supplied to the UConn system from two wellfields, which are permitted to withdraw 3.15 million of gallons per day (MGD). To allow for a margin of safety on water withdrawals from the wellfields, a calculated safe yield of 2.32 MGD (or less) is maintained.
The Willimantic River Wellfield has wells installed between 1958 and 1998. This wellfield contains four active wells that are permitted to withdraw 2.31 MGD and have a safe yield rate of 1.48 MGD. The Fenton River Wellfield wells were installed between 1928 and 1958. This wellfield contains four active wells that are permitted to withdraw 0.84 MGD, which is equivalent to the safe yield rate.
University’s water supply system from three different CWC wellfields and the Lake Shenipsit Reservoir located in Tolland, Ellington, and Vernon. In September 2013, the CT Office of Policy and Management approved the Environmental Impact Evaluation and Record of Decision for this water line extension.
Water Supply Plan
Certain regulated water utilities in Connecticut must complete water supply plans in accordance with Section 25-32d of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) and Section 25-32d of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA), namely the updated water supply planning regulations adopted in 2005. The water supply planning regulations and supporting statutes recognize that planning is a critical management activity for all water utilities. The principal goals of water system planning as defined by DPH are to: (1) ensure an adequate quantity of pure drinking water, now and in the future; (2) ensure orderly growth of the system; and (3) make efficient use of available resources.
Although UConn is not considered a "water company" as set forth in CGS Section 25-32a, UConn still views the Water Supply Plan as an integral device in planning for a safe and adequate water supply system for the foreseeable future. Thus, the 2020 Plan, which is currently being reviewed by DPH and DEEP, addresses (to the extent practical) the requirements of CGS Section 25- 32d and UConn has distributed the 2020 Plan to required State agencies and other required parties for review and comment.
A copy of the 2020 Water Supply Plan can be found here:
The UConn 2020 Water Conservation Plan is intended to meet the requirements of CGS Section 25-32d (the Water Supply Planning Regulations). Section 19-13-B102(s) of the Connecticut Public Health Code requires conservation practices, including a program to reduce the amount of water that cannot be accounted for. The 2020 Plan is consistent with the Public Health Code requirements.
UConn developed its initial Water Conservation Plan in 2000 as part of the revisions to its 1999 Water Supply Plan. That initial Plan was revised in 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2011 concurrent with the previous Water Supply Plan updates. The 2020 Plan is a revision and update of the 2011 Water Conservation Plan.
A copy of the 2020 Water Conservation Plan can be found here:
Fenton and Willimantic River Studies
As a result of ongoing concern about the environmental impacts of withdrawing water from the Fenton River Wellfield and in conjunction with the February 2001 Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) of the North Campus Master Plan, the Fenton River and its stratified drift aquifer have been extensively studied. UConn’s "Fenton River Study" was published in March 2006 with the formal name Long-Term Impact Analysis of the University of Connecticut's Fenton River Water Supply Wells on the Habitat of the Fenton River. The study was conducted to determine whether and how water withdrawals from the Fenton River Wellfield affect the fisheries habitat of the Fenton River adjacent to the wellfield, and the maximum expected impact to instream flows under continuously sustained pumping conditions. The primary recommendation of the Fenton River Study was to institute a series of successive reductions in the daily volume of pumping when the upstream flow in the Fenton River dropped from 6.0 cfs to 3.0 cfs, with the wellfield being shut down when upstream flows dropped below 3.0 cfs.
A copy of the 2006 Fenton River Study can be found here:
With a better understanding of the aquifer processes in the Fenton River and the impacts of ground water withdrawals, attention then turned to the Willimantic River aquifer and its associated wellfield. UConn’s "Willimantic River Study" was published in June 2010 with the formal name Report of the Willimantic River Study: An Analysis of the Impact of the University of Connecticut Water Supply Wells on the Fisheries Habitat of the Willimantic River. Similar to the Fenton River Study, the Willimantic River Study was conducted to determine whether and how water withdrawals from the Willimantic River Wellfield affect the fisheries habitat of the Willimantic River adjacent to the wellfield.
The Willimantic River Study found that the amount of available fisheries habitat in the Willimantic River is much greater than that in the Fenton River. For this reason, and the fact that the Willimantic River Wellfield was (at that time) UConn’s only remaining source of supply after the Fenton River is shut off during low-flow periods, the Willimantic River Study recommended a progression of voluntary and mandatory water conservation measures as upstream flows in the Willimantic River dropped from approximately 19 cfs to approximately 8.0 cfs. The ability of UConn to enact these water conservation measures was tested immediately following the completion of the study, as dry conditions prevailed in summer 2010 and low river flows occurred.
A copy of the 2010 Willimantic River Study can be found here:
Wellfield Management Plan
The primary purpose of the Wellfield Management Plan is to allow UConn to formally incorporate the results of the Fenton River Study and the Willimantic River Study into the overall management of its water system. This document includes a review of both the Fenton River Study and the Willimantic River Study, a review of system operational history, and protocols for operating both wellfields throughout the year. As suggested by the Willimantic River Study, this document further includes:
- A determination for how UConn will monitor USGS-measured upstream discharges at each wellfield and correlate pumping rates to the habitat threshold triggers determined in both the Fenton River Study and the Willimantic River Study.
- A formal update to the 2008 draft Drought Response Plan, including response timing and recovery guidelines.
- Details for how Fenton Well D will be utilized when the Fenton River Wellfield would otherwise be shut down.
- Details for how the interconnection with The Connecticut Water Company (CWC) have been incorporated into overall wellfield management.
Whereas the 2020 Water Supply Plan is UConn’s comprehensive water system planning document, this 2020 Wellfield Management Plan is intended to incorporate the operational recommendations of various environmental studies into a comprehensive operations document. As such, this document is designed to be associated with the 2020 Water Supply Plan but can also serve as a stand-alone document.
A copy of the 2020 Wellfield Management Plan can be found here: