Bethel First Selectman's Report: Vaccine Program Extended, New Water Tank in Service

Bethel First Selectman's Report to the Board of Selectmen

VACCINE PROGRAM EXPANDED

On Saturday, February 13th Bethel conducted its third COVID vaccine clinic, administering the Moderna vaccine to about 450 Bethel and Redding residents. The majority of residents in the 75+ age group have now received the vaccine and our health department is now administering doses to residents in the 65+74 age group.

As a reminder, those who are currently eligible for the vaccine must register in advance on the town's website. It is not possible to accept "walk-in" visits at this time, due to the limited supply of vaccines.

Current eligibility - Groups 1a and 1b, phase 1:

  • Medical and health care workers
  • Long-term care residents and staff
  • Medical first responders, paramedics, EMT's
  • Individuals 65+

Next groupings, 1b, phase 2 and group 1c will include essential workers and individuals with underlying health concerns. This group is expected to be authorized in March. However, as of this date we are still waiting for the state to issue definitions and guidance on these groups.

GOVERNOR RELAXES RESTRICTIONS ON CERTAIN GATHERINGS

In his most recent press briefing, Governor Lamont announced that the allowable attendance limit at certain types of venues will be increased.

Beginning March 19th, the limitation on restaurants, wedding and event operators and other indoor venues will increase from the current level of 25 to 50% of venue capacity up to a maximum of 100. The attendance limitation on religious gatherings will also increase 50% of the space available to a maximum of 200 attendees.

BETHEL'S NEWEST WATER TANK NOW IN SERVICE

This past December, Bethel's new Chestnut Ridge water tank was certified for service by the state Department of Public Health and began delivering water to Bethel homes. The Chestnut tank holds 500,000 gallons of water, and combined with the new 750,000 gallon Eureka tank, constructed in 2016, the town now has a total storage capacity of over 1.2 million gallons. Due to the new storage capacity, Bethel is no longer drawing water from its two older reservoirs; today, 100% of our water needs are supplied by wells, delivering much cleaner water and substantially reducing the need for chemical sanitizing treatments.

The new tanks are part of Bethel's 20-year capital improvement project to upgrade the town's public water system. Since the capital improvement plan was authorized in 2014, the water department has invested over $12 million dollars in upgrades, replacing over 15,000 feet of water mains, replacing pumping stations at Hoyt's Hill and South Street, installing generators at several pump stations to ensure consistent service during power outages, and installing a new pumping system at Briarcliff Manor.

As a reminder, none of these costs are paid through Bethel tax dollars and have no direct impact on the town budget. The capital improvement program is paid solely through rates paid by water customers.  Financing is provided through grants and low-interest loans from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

As a result of the capital improvement program, today the Bethel Water Department is delivering water that exceeds all government safety standards, and at a cost that ranks in the bottom third of all water suppliers in Connecticut.