PEPPERELL — Residents can box up their hoses and sprinkler systems for the season.
You guessed it: The town’s outdoor water ban is still in effect and will be until next spring.
While driving through the neighborhoods of Pepperell, one may notice the yellow grass lain before the front stoop, the dead flowers lined up along the brick walkway or even the lack of 7-year-olds jumping through hoops of moving water. Beginning in August, the town’s Water Department issued a mandatory outdoor water ban, which means the use of outside watering of any kind is prohibited until further notice.
“We need to make sure there is enough water supply and resources for the town and its residents,” said Kenneth Kalinowski, DPW director.
No. This is not the average odd/even number rotation that Pepperell has experienced in the past. Instead, it is the result of a water emergency. This ban is geared towards every town resident who uses town water. The ban is enforced at all times and is meant to avoid more extreme measures of water conservation.
Kalinowski said: “It is the lack of rainfall in the area that started the ban in the first place,” which ultimately reflects upon the amount of resources available to the town.
Particularly, Pepperell must keep its eye on the water supply available for fighting fires, especially during such a dry season.
According to the Mass.gov website, The Massachusetts Drought Advisory Management task force has found conditions warranting a drought advisory in both the northeast and central regions of Massachusetts. The lack of rainfall has increased the level of dry conditions, which merits closer tracking by government and town officials. During the month of August, Massachusetts was ranked 34th driest and 27th driest heading into September.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims that August was drier and warmer than normal when weather conditions are averaged across the country
“The unusually warm conditions enhanced evaporation, which combined with the subnormal precipitation, stressed vegetation in many areas.”
So when and how will the town know when to lift the ban?
“It’s kind of like hitting a moving target,” said Kalinowski. “We monitor the wells, the depths of the ground water, how much water are we reading in our wells. Right now, the town’s water level is literally down dozens of feet below what it normally would be at.”
As part of the town’s improvements and upgrades to its automatic water meter-reading system, the Pepperell Water Department will begin installing new radio read devices. This process will begin within the next couple of months, but may take up to two years to reach every water customer.
The new meter-reading system will make the actual reading quicker and easier for the Water Department.
“It will allow us to more efficiently read the meters,” said Kalinowski. “Right now we have to send someone down to manually get the data. The radio read will allow us to literally drive down the road while the radio reads the remote read.”
The outdoor water ban is mandatory to all Pepperell Water Department customers.Violators will be subject to a fine.