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The Fenton River

Background and University Usage

The University of Connecticut is allowed to draw approximately 844,300 gallons of water a day from its well fields near the Fenton River and approximately 2.3 million gallons from the Willimantic River well fields. On average, the University Water Supply System supplies 1.3 million gallons of water per day to UConn students, administration, faculty, staff, and community members.

Paul Ferri, Environmental Compliance Analyst, takes measurements of the Fenton River.
Paul Ferri, Environmental Compliance Analyst, takes measurements of the Fenton River.

From September 9-15 in 2005, about a 1/4 mile stretch of the Fenton River ran dry. In response to this event, the following statement was made to the DEP:

"The University believes that withdrawals from its well fields required to meet seasonal peak demands concurrently with extreme dry conditions in the summer of 2005, contributed to the drying of the stretch of the Fenton River in the vicinity of the well fields. In response to this event, the University made considerable efforts to review, improve, and implement emergency and long-standing water conservation goals for the campus and surrounding communities dependant on the university water supply."

As a result of this correspondence and concern, the University of Connecticut committed to restocking 1000 catchable size brown trout in the Fenton River, promoting greater public access to UConn-owned property for fishing along the Fenton River, conducting a study about re-colonization of invertebrates, and reimbursing the DEP for natural resources lost and staff time spent during the investigation.

To view up-to-date stream data for the fenton river, please click here.

UConn also agreed to:

  • Hire an expert water conservation consultant to assist the University in identifying and implementing additional conservation measures
  • Implement the Water Conservation Outreach, Education, and Awareness Plan developed by the University's Environmental Policy Advisory Council Water Conservation workgroup
  • Complete campus-wide water supply sub-metering program to enable real-time, on-line monitoring of water use in specific buildings, for the purposes of verifying conformance with conservation measures and measuring reduced demand achieved through conservation.

Photos from the Fenton River Trout Re-stock in 2006.

Water Supply System Assessment and Improvement:

  • Implementing improvements to the infrastructure in UConn's Willimantic River well field to increase capacity by 250,000 - 300,000 GPD
  • Bringing the capacity of the WIllimantic River well field to 1.5 million GPD collectively
  • Reducing reliance on the Fenton River well field during periods of low flow and high demand
  • Complete the Fenton River In stream Flow and Aquatic Habitat Study whcih includes management recommendations for minimizing impact on the river by Fall 2005 and seeking opportunities for review and comment on the final draft report by the Fenton Study Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
  • Analyze the existing water distribution system including the condition of existing mains and areas at risk for significant water losses
  • Pursue the terms of a pending DPH consent order and engage a professional operator to manage UConn's Water Supply System