by John Seidenberg
The Londonderry Town Council has agreed to put into effect a town ordinance placing limitations on water use. It would begin May 31 unless the council later decides to change the starting date.
This ordinance will restrict the use of water from private wells and public water systems for lawn watering during a declared drought within Londonderry.
Under it, watering lawns will only be allowed on odd and even numbered days but not between 8 am and 7 pm. Notice must be given at least 3 calendar days before implementation, Lisa Drabik, assistant town manager, said at the April 19 town council meeting when the decision to proceed on this course was made.
The Londonderry police may enforce any violations of the ordinance.
The town has now gone from abnormally dry to drought status to moderate drought status, Drabik stated.
Londonderry passed an ordinance in 2020 to empower the council during a drought period to impose law watering restrictions.
Somewhat to his surprise, Council Chair John Farrell observed at the meeting, the NH Department of Environmental Services had urged the council to hold off on water restrictions saying that having restrictions in place can encourage residents to water more often than if they were not imposed.
If people worry they may not have enough water for their soil, Councilor Tom Dolan said, they may try to hoard the water at first while they still can. In anticipation of water being cut off altogether, they may use a large amount of water for their yards beforehand, he added.
Marge Badois, chair of the Conservation Commission, addressed the council and said the ideal way to water a lawn is with about an inch of water a week.
“If people are watering twice as much on fewer days it’s actually what they should be doing because it promotes the roots of the lawn to grow deeper and allows it to survive drought conditions better than if they water every day and the roots go shallow.”
Councilor Deb Paul called for action sooner than later. She commented Pennichuck is concerned enough about the current situation to contact people not on its water system about their groundwater use.
Dolan said he doesn’t object to having a higher level of restrictions but urged whatever action is taken to be for a relatively long time to avoid going back and forth on the restrictions.
Doing that would confuse the public and result in multiple violations sometimes unknowingly, he said. People can become accustomed to odd-even days for watering as a better option than going to different levels of restrictions.
In that case there could be widespread noncompliance that’s not enforced and could spread to other forms of noncompliance, he thought. In Dolan’s view, long term could be for two months.
The council decided to go to odd-even days of water limits. Notices with the May 31 effective date will start going out, Drabik said. Word can also go out through the police, Twitter, Facebook, and other websites.
The ordinance affects all town residents for town water, well water, and all lawn watering done privately and commercially. The schools also must adhere to the measure.
During the council’s public comment period, Paul said she had recently noticed landscaping companies pumping water from Kendall Pond with one landscaping truck on Route 128 stopped in a no parking area to remove water.
She noted ground drinking water is affected for wells and this is happening now at a time of drought concerns.
This issue arose during the last drought, recalled Town Manager Kevin Smith, and the town was able to curb it. Officials will investigate these latest occurrences of water pumping, Farrell said.