Milford: Turn off the water

Town asks for end to outdoor watering

MILFORD – Reacting to what the state is call­ing extreme drought con­ditions in southern New Hampshire, the town is asking all residents, busi­nesses and industries to stop all outdoor water use, except for watering vegetable gardens and newly planted vegetation.

The recommendations include government water use and those on private wells.

They replace an odd-even program for those connected to the munici­pal water system, about half of Milford water us­ers, that started in July.

The odd-even program had included the possibil­ity of fines, but the new system is voluntary. It went into effect Tuesday, Oct. 4.

On Sept. 16, officials in Milford and other south­ern New Hampshire towns participated in a confer­ence call hosted by state officials to discuss the drought. Then last week, Milford selectmen met with the town Water Utili­ties Commission to decide on a course of action.

Commission Chairman Bob Courage said that af­ter the conference call, the town notified town and school departments that all irrigation systems should be turned off.

Milford gets its water from three wells, with a backup supply from Pen­nichuck Water Works, which has asked its cus­tomers to stop outdoor watering.

Water Commissioner Dale White disagreed that the situation is se­rious enough to war­rant a ban. Pennichuck’s supply is fed by the Merrimack River, flow­ing from northern New Hampshire, which has no drought. And the weather is getting rain­ier as we head into fall.

"We live with so many rules and regulations," he said, "aren’t people smart enough to con­serve water?"

Milford has been look­ing for another well lo­cation for years, and wa­ter commissioners have started testing land near the town-owned Brox property.

"Milford is in dire need of an additional water supply," Cour­age told selectmen. "We need Pennichuck as a backup more and more."

Two discontinued wells, the Savage Well across Elm Street from Hitchiner Manufacturing and the Keyes Well near Keyes Park are undergo­ing cleanup as federal Superfund sites.

Merrimack also has many homes and busi­nesses served by a munic­ipal system, and last week the Merrimack Village Water District tightened its odd-even program, which had allowed water­ing in the early morning and evening.

Now watering in Mer­rimack is allowed only in the evening, from 5-8.

Merrimack’s mandatory ban includes warnings, followed by discontinua­tion of service and a $125 reconnection fee.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.