For the Record: Mayor Stewart Sets the Fact Straight on Well Sale

On August 10th, the Common Council voted 11-4 to sell the Patton Brook Well to the town of Southington, who has leased the well from the City of New Britain for decades until the agreement ended in 2014. Southington is not interested in renewing the lease.

During last week’s meeting, many residents came out and spoke both against and in favor of the sale. I applaud our citizens for getting involved, but many of the comments coming from those who were against the sale were outright lies and unfortunate misinformation. We are not selling the New Britain Water Co. and have absolutely no intentions of doing so. We are transferring ownership of a physical well that isn’t connected to the city’s water pipes and hasn’t been used by the city in decades. The Patton Brook well sits on a 0.61 acre parcel of land in Southington and is valued at around $61,000.

As one of the members from the Southington Water Department told the Common Council, the sale of the well is akin to renting a house for 30 years and finally wanting to buy it.

Thanks to immense foresight from our city’s founders, New Britain owns watershed property in several surrounding communities. In fact, New Britain is one of the largest taxpayers in the town of Burlington due to the water company property we own there. Part of this regional land purchasing started more than a century ago because of the the city’s many former manufacturers which heavily relied on a vast amount of water on hand for fire protection. This supply remains extremely strong to this day.

From our six reservoirs, two well fields, and one pond station—along with the 5 million gallons we can pull from the Neapug Reservoir in Collinsville due to an agreement with the MDC, we are able to safely pump up to 17.64 million gallons of water a day. The New Britain Water Co. only uses about 10 million gallons of that on a daily basis, even when we account for the water that we sell to customers in Bristol and Berlin. Comments about running out of water are simply untrue, as currently we are only using about 55 percent of the water that we can produce.

The proceeds from the sale of the Patton Brook Well will be used to make infrastructure improvements at the 27 wells of the city-owned Lower White Bridge wellfield in Bristol. At best, city water experts say the Patton Brook Well can only pump about 1.2 million gallons a day. The wells in Bristol provide 5 times more water than the Patton Brook Well and the water can be pumped directly into our Shuttle Meadow water filtration plant which can get directly to your faucets with ease.

In order for the City to draw water from the Patton Brook Well, we would have to reconnect raw water transmission lines, drill a new well, and install a new high efficiency pump—all at a cost of around $1 million.  Southington is the only town we can negotiate with over this property because its water system is the only one that can tap into the well, according to the state Department of Public Health.

When you step back and look at the facts, the sale of the well to Southington makes sense: it’s valuable to Southington and that town only. Furthermore, with the improvements we will make at the well field in Bristol, we are increasing the amount of water available to New Britain residents—ensuring generations to come will have reliable clean drinking water.

Four meetings were held on the sale of this well over the last few months. These were meetings open to the public, not behind closed doors. I have made a commitment since taking office to operate with transparency and to have an open-door policy. Everyone is welcome and I encourage you to contact me to meet and hear the facts. My team and I have worked incredibly hard over the last three years to rebuild pride and ensure New Britain’s future is bright.

Our residents know political posturing when they see it. Let’s not turn back.

Mayor Erin E. Stewart