While no water ban is yet in place, the Town of Londonderry is urging residents to be cautious and conservative in their water usage, even as the Federal government has declared Rockingham County a disaster area because of severe drought.
Town Manager Kevin Smith issued an advisory on the town Web site this past week, asking residents to be careful in their water use, and referring them to state sources for more information.
In particular, he referred them to a Department of Environmental Services (DES) bulletin stating that Rockingham County is one of eight New Hampshire counties considered to be in “extreme drought.”
The letter attributed the drought conditions to “a combination of a below-average snowpack in the spring, little precipitation to recharge the groundwater, an increase of evapotranspiration in the summer, and the inability of New Hampshire watersheds to store large volumes of water due to their geology.” The conditions have led to a designation of the northern half of the state as being in abnormally dry conditions and the southern half in severe drought.
Mary Stampone, state climatologist, was quoted as saying that relief is not forecasted for the near future, and drought conditions will most likely continue into the fall.
More than 100 public water systems have implemented outdoor water use restrictions in the seven counties, including Rockingham. Those under restrictions are asked to refrain from using water outdoors except for hand-watering of vegetable gardens until precipitation mitigates the drought conditions.
According to the press release, saving water for essential uses, such as drinking, cooking and cleaning of clothes and dishes and limiting non-essential uses such as watering of lawns is the most effective way to sustain water supplies until enough rain is received to replenish water sources.
Rockingham County is also one of eight New Hampshire counties declared a disaster area on Aug. 17. A press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated eight counties in New Hampshire as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by freeze and unseasonably warm temperatures that occurred from Feb. 1, 2016, through April 30, 2016.”
The designation qualified farmers and ranchers in the area for low-interest loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated in the press release, “Our hearts go out to those New Hampshire farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters. President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling New Hampshire producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.
Those wanting further information on water conservation may visit www.des.nh.gov and scroll through the “A-Z List” to the “Drought Management Program.” For more information on the farm and ranch loans, visit http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.