AYER — With concerns of contaminated drinking water still prevalent in town, the Board of Selectmen have moved to have the public pitch-in help.
The board declared a State of Water Supply Conservation earlier this month as a means to reduce the town water demand, which currently depends on multiple water wells that have been discovered to have traces of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS.
Effective since May 15, the conservation puts a ban on outdoor use of public water. These include watering with a hand hose, watering with a water can, sprinklers, irrigation systems and all other outdoor watering systems. Sprinklers and irrigation systems can be allowed as long as the user has written permission from the town Department of Public Works.
Violations of this ban include a written warning for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second offense, a $200 fine for the third offense and a $300 fine for the fourth offense. A fourth violation of the ban can also lead to a reduction in available water for residents.
Mark Wetzel, superintendent of the Ayer Department of Public Works, said on Wednesday that the department has noticed some people still using in-ground sprinklers since the ban went into effect and have had to issue warnings.
The department has had to shut off one of its water wells at Grove Pond due to high levels of PFAS being detected last year and the department has planned temporary treatment to the well. Wetzel said that levels of PFAS in another Grove Pond well have been "creeping up" as of late, hence the need for the outdoor water ban.
Wetzel said that the treatment to the original Grove Pond well is set to be completed in two weeks, at which time the other well will be taken offline.
Wetzel added that Ayer uses an average of 1.4 million gallons of water per day, but the summer season has water use go up to 2.7 million gallons per day. The town also approved a $4.2 million PFAS removal treatment system that is currently out to bid, with Wetzel saying that the bids are expected to come back next Wednesday.
For those concerned about the safety of their lawns, Wetzel recommended contacting the department for a variance.
"We don't want to bother people who've put so much money into their homes," Wetzel said.
Jon Winkler: jwinkler@ nashobavalleyvoice.com