Watering ban enforced

Milford moves to odd-even restrictions on outdoor use

MILFORD – As the drought continues, Mil­ford homeowners and businesses connected to the town water supply now face fines for failing to comply with restrictions on outdoor water use.

Lawn watering, espe­cially, but even activities like filling a kiddie pool, are now restricted to the early morning and eve­ning hours of 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m., and every other day, corresponding to house numbers.

That means if your house number is an even number you can water dur­ing even numbered days, and if your house has an odd number you can water during odd numbered days – but only during those six hours a day.

By controlling lawn wa­tering, said Water Utilities Director David Boucher, residents will help save water for more essential everyday uses like bath­ing and clothes washing and for fire protection.

The latest restrictions follow what was a volun­tary program over the past few weeks when people were asked to refrain from watering their lawns.

The new restrictions, approved by the Milford Water and Sewer Commis­sioners and backed up by state law, have penalties for those who ignore them.

Those who are non-compliant will receive a warning letter, said Boucher, and seriously non-compliant users will have their water shut off and pay a fee to restart it – a $50 fee during busi­ness hours and a $120 fee during off-hours.

The new restrictions will continue to Oct. 1 and are scheduled to start up again on May 1, 2017, if need be.

The town’s water level remains two feet below what is normal in Janu­ary and February, Bouch­er said.

Watering only in the early morning and the evening is more efficient, said Boucher, because less water is lost to evap­oration – "50 percent is lost during the hot part of the day," he said, which are the peak water-use hours. It also makes sure the pumps aren’t stressed.

If the drought continues through the fall, the town would have to go to a total ban on outdoor water use.

"Right now that is not necessary," Boucher said.

The restrictions only apply to homes and busi­nesses served by town water and don’t apply to those on the outskirts of town who get their water from private wells.

The state Department of Environmental Servic­es has launched an infor­mation campaign to raise awareness of what they called the worse drought in more than a decade.

People in southern New Hampshire are urged to refrain from non-essential water use, especially lawn watering, which can spike a household’s water use by 100 percent, accord­ing to Brandon Kernen, a state hydrogeologist.

People with private wells are also urged to conserve, because all wells draw on ground­water, and groundwa­ter comes from rain and snow, which is 10-20 inch­es below normal this year.

There is no federally-declared drought, at least not yet, and a state law allows municipalities to restrict or ban lawn wa­tering, from both public and private wells, if the situation gets that bad.

Residents who use town water are being informed of the restrictions by mail, Boucher said, and infor­mation is on the town web­site and expected to be on the community-access television station. Accord­ing to the website, people can report a violator by calling the Water Depart­ment at 249-0667.

Residents receiving wa­ter from the Pennichuck Water Company, should visit www.pennichuck.com/ water_restrictions.php.