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.