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 email@example.com.