The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs has declared a Drought Advisory for the Connecticut River region; in response the Town of Amherst is issuing a voluntary water restriction effective immediately. The drought advisory is the result of a prolonged period of low precipitation. Even without the college population in Town, water usage for the past two months is above our annual daily average, and is over 500,000 gallons per day over our historical summer usage.
This initial water emergency measures consists of a Phase I – Voluntary Request which includes requesting residents to conserve water using the following methods:
1. Watering your lawns every other day as listed below:
a. Via sprinklers or by hose (both in-ground and above-ground systems), before 9:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m.
Odd # houses on odd days Only
Even # houses on even days Only
b. Cars may only be washed according to the above schedule.
2. No filling of swimming pools.
3. Outdoor automatic sprinklers should follow the schedule for outdoor lawn watering or not used.
If the precipitation does not increase, and usage does not decrease, we may have to go to Phase II - Mandatory Water Restriction which would mandate the water use restrictions listed above including imposing fines for non-compliance. Your cooperation with the voluntary restriction is appreciated.
Large quantities of water are used for watering lawns and gardens during the warm weather months, putting additional stress on water supplies. Summer and early fall is the most important time for us to be conscious of how we use water in our day-to-day activities. Visit http://www.mass.gov/dep for more information about conserving water on a daily basis.
If you really need a green lawn, there are still a few measures you can take to reduce water usage. Lawns should only be watered when necessary, early morning if possible. Lawns only require one (1) inch of water per week. Using a rain gauge will help you determine if your lawn needs more water. Frequent light watering can weaken the lawn, encouraging shallow roots that are less tolerant of dry periods. Other ways to conserve water and keep your lawn looking its best include: keeping mower blades sharp to prevent tearing of grass, raising the blade to 2 ½ inches as longer grass provides shade for the roots and helps to reduce water loss, decreasing the size of the lawn by creating pebbled areas, planting drought resistant ground covers, planting ornamental plants that can withstand periods with low water, mulching to provide a ground cover that reduces water evaporation from the soil while reducing the number of weeds that compete for soil moisture.
The voluntary water use restriction is effective immediately. The Town will notify the public when the water use restriction is lifted.