For those with wells and no backup generators, no power means no water.
By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue
Tropical Storm Isaias cut power to more than 2 million customers in the Northeast when it passed through the region on Tuesday. For those with wells and no backup generators, the loss of electricity delivered a double blow: no running water either.
“If they don’t have power, they can’t run the well pumps,” Larry Sima, president of the Connecticut Water Well Association, told Circle of Blue.
Connecticut is one of the states hardest hit by the storm. About 500,000 customers of Eversource Energy were without power as of early Thursday evening.
Sima said that about 200,000 households in Connecticut have wells. He did not know how many of those households also have backup generators. Counties in the Northeast have some of the highest number of people using wells in the country.
People without running water due to the power outages have discussed their circumstances on social media.
“It’s extra depressing to be without power or water during COVID times,” tweeted @CulturalGeek during the third day without water and power. For hand washing, Twitter user @Liliyapolis collected rainwater in a saucepan.
Civic organizations and companies are assisting where they can. Madison, a town of about 20,000 residents on Connecticut’s southern coast, is providing drinking at the high school and town hall. In New Jersey, the Red Cross is distributing bottled water in Gloucester County. New York State Electric and Gas, meanwhile, is handing out bottled water and ice in Dutchess County.
Sima said that well owners in the region are generally aware of the risk.
“They understand that no power means no water,” he said.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton