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By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
As summer rolls into the area, water usage goes up — pools get filled, sprinklers run for excited kids no longer in school, and lawns and gardens demand drinks. Fresh water is crucial to life, human and nonhuman alike. In attempting to preserve water, bans or restrictions are placed on it.
Exactly how the conservation of water goes about differs from town to town. For example:
In Wellesley, there are no mandatory water restrictions.
Westwood enacts a June 1 voluntary water restriction with the system in place for the possibility of a mandatory restriction.
Needham runs a restriction on an odd/even, two days a week limit for non-essential water usage from May 1 to September 30.
According to the Walpole town website, a ban is in place from May 1 to October 2.
Last year, in 2016, Medfield needed to implement a one day a week watering policy to try to conserve water. The Water Department was unavailable for comment as to any changes in policy this year.
Despite the bans and restrictions in place, towns want to be perfectly clear that — as Steve Cusick, Water Treatment Facilities Manager in Needham says — “We are NOT in danger of running out of water.”
Bill Shaughnessy, the Water and Sewer Superintendent in Wellesley, reports that “our current water supply is at normal status for this time of year. We anticipate there will be sufficient water to meet town water demand this summer as we did in last year’s severely dry summer.”
Yet, if there is no danger of running out of water, why do the bans stay in place?
As Eileen Commane, the Executive Director of the Dedham-Westwood Water District explains, though we had a wet spring and supplies are at a normal level, “we never really know until it [the summer weather] comes” and if they will need more or less.
In Needham, the reason for the restrictions stem from a more serious potential problem. According to Cusick, “the Town has not be able to stay below 65 gallons per person, per day.” More details about the Needham restrictions can be found on the town website.
All towns would ask residents look online for changes in the water situation, whether restrictions are implemented or changed. Tips on how to reduce water usage can also be found on each town’s website. Some common tips from the area’s water departments:
• Water lawns only when needed. Check first, since lawns require less water than most people think.
• If you need to water your lawn, do it early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) or later in the evening (after 9 p.m.) to minimize evaporation.
• Try to take shorter showers, and shower instead of taking a bath.
• Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.
• After meals, scrape dishes clean before washing instead of rinsing.
• Use shut-off nozzles on hoses and automatic shut-off devices on lawn irrigation sprinklers. Unattended hoses can use 10 gallons or more per minute.
Any further questions about policies can be directed to your local water department website, and if the information cannot be found there, by contacting the department directly.
The important takeaways are that these restrictions are not meant as punishment, but rather an attempt to preserve a fundamental resource. As Eileen Commane says: “Value your public water supply as a precious and local resource. Delight in seeing kids running through a sprinkler on a hot July day, but shut it off when you don't need it!”