Based on water supply forecast from Aquarion Water Company, the Greenwich reservoirs are expected to hit the second drought trigger by July 10, 2020. One week ago, the Greenwich reservoirs met the first drought trigger as the reservoir was below 90%, prompting Aquarion to call for 20% reduction in water usage. Aquarion believes this can easily be met if people who are not adhering to the two-day a week irrigation schedule chose to do so. Water company surveillance suggests there are numerous property owners who are watering more frequently, accounting for a daily use of 15 million gallons of water just for irrigation. This is 1.5 times the volume of water public-water customers use for all other purposes.
Based on the data depicting precipitation for the last 60 days, the region is tracking the same curve as existed with the 2016 drought. Demand is higher than last year and similar to 2016. What can help avoid the dire supply conditions of 2016, even with the same rainfall deficits, is conservation of the water resource now. In 2016, requirements to reduce demand did not start until the reservoirs were down to 35% capacity. This year, Aquarion is calling for 20% reduction while the reservoir capacity is at 85%. The success in pushing off further demand reductions is up to Aquarion’s customers and their prudence in water use.
While the storms of last week brought some much needed rainfall, it isn’t enough. The watersheds of the Stamford and Greenwich reservoirs only received two inches of rain. With the existing dry soil, most of the precipitation will be absorbed and not even make it to the reservoir. With too little rain last week, little rain in the forecast, and Greenwich customers’ above average consumption of water, the second trigger of water demand reduction is expected by the end of this week.
The second trigger will cause Aquarion to increase enforcement of the watering schedule and increase public messaging calling for lower demand. At current demand rates and precipitation, the third trigger could come as early at July 27. This stage requires people to reduce irrigation to once a week. It is within the power of Greenwich residents to curb consumption and postpone the third trigger.
To reduce demand, look to irrigation, as it has the highest opportunity for savings. Lawns benefit from only being watered twice a week to give them the inch of water they need. This should be done in the morning to limit the amount of water that evaporates and for a duration that is short enough to keep water from running off the lawn and plantings.
Drip irrigation for plantings is also highly efficient and promotes strong root growth. Lastly, be sure sprinklers do not spray over driveways, roads, etc. This is entirely wasteful.
Within the house, only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine, shorten showers, don’t let the water run while washing hands and brushing teeth. And now would be a great time to have any leaks fixed.
To those on private wells, the twice a week schedule and general reduction of demand is equally applicable. By town ordinance, wells are regulated, too. Ground water is a communal resource, and no one well operates independently to the others. Consequently, the wells of others, and our streams, waterbodies, and rivers all rely on every single user to extract this resource judiciously to ensure there is enough for all.
The schedule for watering is even or no numbers water on Sunday and Wednesday and odd numbered properties water on Saturday and Tuesday. For watering variances for public water supply customers, click here.
For watering variances for private wells, contact [email protected].