Milford back on odd-even water use

MILFORD – Winter snow and spring rains have eased the drought, but Milford water officials have reinstated the odd-even watering restrictions that were in place last year.

That’s because the town wants to keep its three water tanks, especially the one at Dram Cup Hill, near the Market Basket supermarket, full enough for fire suppression and other needs.

“It’s not so much about the drought,” said David Boucher, the town’s water utilities director, who said the restrictions will help ease the summer demand for water and help the town avoid spending money to buy water from Pennichuck Water Works, its backup supplier.

Milford is asking homes and businesses connected to the town water supply to limit their outdoor water use for only three hours early in the morning and three hours in the evening. Lawn watering and other outdoor uses are only allowed during the hours of 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m.

The odd-even system of outdoor use is based on house numbers.

Because of heavy water use during the summer, it’s a struggle to keep the Dram Cup Hill tank filled, said Boucher, who said the restrictions help control the withdrawal of water from the town’s aquifer, making sure there is water for everyday needs, lawn watering and fire protection.

“Most people waste water,” said Boucher, who said water is used most efficiently and does the most good for lawns when it’s applied in the early morning.

Using less water is also better for the town’s pumping equipment because it doesn’t have to be used constantly.

“We should have started this years ago,” Boucher said.

The Merrimack Village Water District restricts water use every summer.

Last summer, the town enacted an odd-even system, and by September, it was asking residents and businesses to stop all outdoor water use, except for vegetable gardens and newly planted vegetation, after the state said drought conditions had become extreme.

This year, Milford’s restrictions went into effect May 1 and will continue until Oct. 1.

First-time violators will receive a written warning, with serious repeat offenders risking disconnection of their water service and a reconnection fee.

But Boucher said the town is more interested in building awareness of water conservation than in collecting fines.

The town provides a way to report any observed violators by calling the Water Department at 249-0667.

Milford residents who live in the Badger Hill development, the Federal Hill Reserve and Great Brook condominiums, all served by Pennichuck Water Works, can go to Pennichuck’s website.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor pages on the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ website, most of Hillsborough, Rockingham and Sullivan counties last week were considered “abnormally dry,” but not dry enough to be considered in a drought.

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