LONDONDERRY — Although some rain did fall recently, town officials are still keeping track of the state’s drought updates and making sure the community conserves as much water as possible.
At a recent meeting, town councilors approved putting its Level 1 watering restrictions in place for residential and commercial properties, effective Friday.
According to the town ordinance, Level 1 restrictions include: lawn watering by odd-numbered addresses only allowed on odd-numbered days; lawn watering by even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days; and no lawn watering at all between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Violations would be imposed for those not following the order, with a warning for a first violation, and fines added on for second or more violations.
As of the restrictions being put in place, the state’s Drought Management Team drought map continues to show much of the state in various states of dryness with the most recent drought report showing about 10% of the state in extremely dry, drought conditions.
The drought map, updated weekly, also noted that approximately 160 community water systems serving more than 300,000 people have some level of outdoor water restrictions in place, either mandatory or voluntary.
According to Londonderry’s rules, “the grass playing turf of a recreational field, the grass playing surfaces of a golf course, or grass agricultural fields, including fields used for the protection of sod, may be excluded from these restrictions.”
Town Councilor Deb Paul hoped the restrictions would also include municipal properties that could also conserve watering, like on the Town Common or other properties.
“We are asking people to do something,” Paul said. “You should lead by example and take the higher path. To me, it’s about being equal and fair to everyone.”
Councilor Tom Dolan said if people take the restrictions seriously, they may find unique ways to gather water and save during the dry spell.
Town Manager Kevin Smith said the town isn’t out to penalize people and make any money from imposing watering fines. But fines could be costly if there are repeated violations.
“We do everything we can at first to educate and have people do the right thing,” Smith said, “the right thing according to what the ordinance says.”
Town Council Chairman John Farrell said the town will also remain diligent when it comes to saving water.
“The state is saying we are in a severe drought,” Farrell said. “The town will look at their properties and peel back as well.”
In Windham, that community is also watching water usage closely and has had watering restrictions in place since mid-summer, currently set at a Level 2 restriction as per the town’s regulations.
Windham’s rules include outdoor lawn watering only for odd-numbered addresses on Mondays and Thursdays; outdoor lawn watering for addresses with even numbers on Tuesdays and Fridays. No lawn watering is allowed between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
And similar to other towns with restrictions, golf courses, grass agricultural fields and grass playing turf on recreational fields are exempt from the restrictions as are periodic watering of vegetable, herb or flower gardens.
Fines for violation of the watering rules in Windham include a warning for a first violation; $200 for a second violation and additional violations could cost up to $1,000 in fines.
“The Town of Windham appreciates your effort and cooperation with this mandatory water use restriction in an effort to sustain our drinking water supply during these dry conditions,” a town statement said. Officials also urged residents to keep up to date with the state’s Drought Monitor that updates conditions weekly.
Other water systems serving municipalities throughout the region also have water restrictions in place, including the Pennichuck system that services parts of Derry, Londonderry and Windham and other communities in the region.