June 22 2020

Outdoor Watering Limited to Two Nights a Week to Reduce Demand

By: Rich Hosford

The Board of Selectmen approved new outdoor watering restriction in an attempt to both lower the high use currently seen in town and to avoid having to go to a full watering ban. 


Effective immediately, the restrictions limits watering to between 6 and 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays only. DPW Director John Sanchez, who recommended the action, said the amount of water that has been used in the last few weeks is not sustainable. He said that in March the town was using roughly 2 million gallons per day (mgd) but that when the initial watering ban that was put in place due to COVID-19 concerns was lifted, that went up to 3.5 mgd. 


In the last couple of weeks, he said, the town has seen demand rise to first 4.5 mgd and peaked last Friday at 5 mgd. This amount, coupled with the dry conditions that are making it hard to draw water from the Shawsheen River into the Mill Pond Reservoir, will put a strain on the town’s water system. Add to that the fact that some of the wells in town cannot be used due to decontamination, further reducing the town’s capacity compared to years ago. 


“If we continue to use water at the rate we are now we are going to run that reservoir dry,” Sanchez said. “We are at the limit right now. We don't like imposing any kind of restrictions but we are asking the board to do that.” 


Further, Sanchez said, businesses are starting to reopen and more people will be in town for work, further adding to the demand. 


“What is worrisome is that we are at the limit,” Sanchez said. “Our fear is that once more businesses reopen and we have people coming back that we are not going to be able to meet the demand.” 


Members of the board said they were in support of the decision and encouraged residents to comply with the order for the benefit of everyone. They acknowledged that these decisions are not popular but necessary. 


“Some people don’t understand that it could be a choice to either take a shower and put out a fire or water your lawn,” Chairman Joe Morandi said. 


There are fines for breaking the water restrictions. On the first violation a person will be issued a warning, on the second a fine of $50 will be imposed and a fine of $100 will be imposed for each subsequent violation.


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