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Greenwich Water Supplies Dwindling

Dry conditions prompt water conservation call.

Town officials are warning Greenwich residents that reservoir water levels are dropping and are urging residents to "voluntarily conserve.''

At the April 19 Board of Selectmen's meeting, First Selectman Peter Tesei said, "We are closely monitoring the water suply due to the lack of snow and rainfall and the potential for fire hazard." According to Tesei, reservoir levels in town are decreasing "to just below 93.7 percent. Typically, reservoir levels are at 98 to 100 percent."

He added, "This more acutely affects people on wells that are not recharging from snow or rainfall. We are asking residents to voluntarily conserve."

Tesei highlighted some of the water conservation practices to using compost or mutch to cover gardens.

Tesei said, stream flows are at near record lows and groundwater levels are falling at a time of year when they should be rising. “At this time, public water supplies are adequate but we want to make sure that residents, especially those on private wells, are aware of the dry weather conditions” states First Selectman Peter Tesei.

Fire Chief Peter Siecienski noted that the forest fire danger in Connecticut is rated high. “Remember that dry vegetation should be cleared at least 30 feet from homes and out buildings,” he advises. “Dispose of hot charcoal and ash carefully and store firewood and kindling outside your cleared area.”

“In Greenwich, we have residents served by both public water and private wells,” reminds Denise Savageau, Conservation Director. “Our water supply team keeps an eye on both sources. Additionally, we monitor fire ponds and stream flow. Water is not just for drinking, it is about fire protection and fisheries habitat as well.”

Savageau heads up the Greenwich Water Supply Team that includes  Siecienski, Director of Health Caroline Baisley, Emergency Management Director Dan Warzoha, and the First Selectman. According to Savageau, a good soaking rain will help to alleviate the current fire danger and also improve stream flow. Groundwater recharge, however, generally takes place during the winter so this is something the Town will be watching very closely throughout the summer season.

Water conservation is something that residents are reminded to practice every day. “Outdoor water use is one way to really cut down on usage as we head into the summer season. This is extremely important especially in the backcountry where irrigation may affect private wells and fire ponds.” said Savageau.

"It's a rather dire issue as time goes on," Tesei said.

Here is a suggested list of water conversation of water plans as proposed by the Greenwich Water Supply Team that includes Fire Chief Peter Siecienski, Director of Health Caroline Baisley, Emergency Management Director Dan Warzoha, and Tesei,

Do add compost to your soil and use mulch in your garden to hold in moisture.

2. Do water gardens only when needed and use drip irrigation.

3. Do water lawns only when needed. One inch of water per week is enough. Use a coffee can to monitor amounts. Remember, cool season grasses go dormant in warm weather. Brown grass is not dead, just dormant. It will green up as soon as temperatures cool.

4. Do make sure that you know how to manually control your irrigation system.

5. Don’t water your lawn for a week after an inch of rain.

6. Do make sure you are watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or street.

7. Do water in the early morning or early evening to avoid evaporation.

Peter F. Alexander April 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Because of the lack of real Watershed Planning we can expect this trend to continue. Instead of setbacks and pages of regulations and thousands of plastic tubs buried by the PE brains we need real retention, detention and filtration. Add in failing septic systems and we experience the lack of planning and the pointing of responsibility to landowners. Oh, and by the way, upstream flow slowed and retained helps alieviate downstream flooding. Wetlands Agency is the only one we need if given the right planning rights including coastal areas. Encourage enlargement,enhancement not just setbacks. Happy Earth Day !
inquiring mind April 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Mr. Alexander, can you please elaborate? I am not up to speed on the local watershed planning or lack thereof. Who should we be prodding?
Peter F. Alexander April 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM
RTM Land Use Commitee is best chance we have at present. They and their fellow RTM members can help co-ordinate land use planning for our future. At present we plan by Zoning, parcel by parcel. The IWWA agencey has a great staff and knowledge base, but their purview is restricted. It can be expanded. Let's say you own a 2 acre parcel and want to build a pond and an associated wetland on a site without wetlands. At present you would not be allowed to and if you did your neighbors would likely fall into restrictions based on setbacks. We should encourage such activity. 300 plus years of farming here thrived on just such actions. Regulations that kicked in in the 1970's carry the attitude of lock up existing wetlands and stay away. What we need is to encourage such activity that can help clean, allow for relenishment of water table and if properly designed provide for low flow stream to keep streams from drying up.

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