The Board of Selectmen voted in favor of joining the Connecticut Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network during a special meeting on Tuesday.
“This CT WARN is a group of municipalities that all got together and they put together this agreement through the water company. It doesn’t cost anything, and it’s an opt in and opt out (program),” First Selectman Gerald Smith explained.
Smith said that the municipalities and organizations involved in this program all list what equipment they have available as far as water and wastewater utilities are concerned.
Then, during a natural or manmade disaster, if any of the equipment is needed, there is a list of who has the proper equipment.
Along with multiple municipalities across the state, CT WARN’s other members include the Connecticut Water Company, United Water Connecticut, Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, and the Connecticut Correctional Institute.
“In Beacon Falls, if one of our pumps goes out and we need a big 8-inch pump to come pump us out, we go to the list, we call them up, and they say to us, ‘Sure, come on down and pick it up,’ or ‘We’ll bring it to you,’” Smith said.
Smith explained that the towns could either charge for the use of the equipment or can lend it out for free, with the understanding that the help will be returned.
According to CT WARN’s website, the program’s mission is to support and promote statewide emergency preparedness, disaster response, and mutual assistance matters for public and private water and wastewater utilities.
Smith said just because it is part of the program, the town doesn’t have to say yes to every request that comes in.
“My concern was that we have a pump and I have to give it to you,” Smith said. “This is strictly if we have it and we want to let it go, we let it go — same with everybody else.”
Smith explained that this program came about when the water and wastewater utility companies and municipalities realized that, during a disaster, there was nowhere to go except for the state. Therefore, they took it upon themselves to create this list.
Selectman Christopher Bielik felt that this was a good program for the town to take part in.
“So it’s kind of a way of sharing assets in an emergency without cutting your own throat, but if you have a spare you can help out your neighbors,” Bielik said.
Smith said he did not see any downside to this program.
“I just thought it wasn’t a bad thing to be part of because if one of our pumps goes down and we need something at least we know right where we can go get it,” Smith said. “I’m in favor of it.”