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UConn approves plan to pipe in water from Tolland

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PAT EATON-ROBB | December 11, 2013 02:37 PM EST | AP


STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut is getting out of the municipal water business.

The school's Board of Trustees approved a deal Wednesday with the Connecticut Water Co. for the company to supplement UConn's water supply.

The agreement also calls for Connecticut Water to supply parts of Mansfield, including Storrs, that currently rely on the university for their water. A separate deal is being worked out with the town.

"The university does a lot of things, but running a water supply system is not essentially a core competency of the University of Connecticut," said Thomas Callahan, UConn associate vice president for infrastructure planning and strategic project management.

Under the agreement, Connecticut Water will absorb the estimated $21 million it will cost to build a 5-mile pipeline from Tolland to the campus. The school is expected to spend about $2 million to hook the line up to its existing system.

The agreement calls for the company to sell the school up to 1.5 million gallons of water daily as needed over the next 46 years.

Callahan said UConn began looking for a water partner in 2010 as a way to ensure it could meet demands on the expanding campus for the next 50 years. He said the agreement will allow the school and town to go forward with planned development projects, such as the UConn Technology Park, without having to worry about a dwindling water supply.

UConn had rejected proposals from two other companies, one of which would have involved piping in water from as far away as the Farmington River.

"This agreement demonstrates the commitment of Connecticut Water and UConn to develop a long-term water supply solution for the region that is environmentally sound," said Eric Thornburg, president and chief executive officer of Clinton-based Connecticut Water.

The school said it expects to have the system up and running in three years after the permitting process and construction is complete.

The deal still needs approval from state regulators. Callahan said the plan calls for maintaining water rates at their current level for the off-campus customers who currently use the UConn water system. New customers in Mansfield would pay whatever rates are authorized at the time by state regulators.

Connecticut Water would charge UConn a reduced rate in recognition of the state-owned infrastructure, a deal similar to one the company has with Bradley International Airport, the school and the company said.