The Westport Weston Health District today urged homeowners with private wells to conserve water during this prolonged period of dry weather.
“The entire state remains in a drought advisory,” said Mark Cooper, director.
He noted that the state Department of Health has declared a temporary 30-day public water supply emergency for four Fairfield County towns served by Aquarion Water Company—Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan.
While Westport, so far, has not been part of the state’s public water supply emergency declaration, however, the water company has urged water conservation and advised its customers to reduce their water use, Cooper said.
He said about 40 percent of Westport households are served by their own private wells, and all of Weston is. He added that the private home/well owner is solely responsible for the quantity and quality of the water that comes from their well.
These individual wells tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored, Cooper said.
He said the water level in a groundwater well will fluctuate naturally during the year with the highest during March and April in response to winter snowmelt and spring rainfall. The movement of rain and snowmelt into groundwater is known as recharge.
Groundwater levels usually begin to fall in May and continue to decline during the summer, Cooper said.
“There has not been a lot of groundwater recharge this year, water tables are low, and unless there is some sustained rainfall before the ground freezes in the winter, the water table will continue to go down,” he said.
The Health District offered these water-saving tips:
• Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
• Avoid taking baths—take short showers—turn on water only to get wet and lather and then again to rinse off.
• Avoid letting the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.
• Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.
• Operate automatic dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Use the “light wash” feature, if available, to use less water.
• Hand wash dishes by filling two containers—one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
• Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap.
• Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Do not let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
• Avoid wasting water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove or in a microwave.
• Avoid rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher; just remove large particles of food. (Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing)
• Avoid using running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave oven.
• Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.
Outdoor Water Conservation Tips While in a Drought
• Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
• If you wash your own car, use a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted down to a fine spray on your hose.
• Avoid over watering your lawn and water only when needed:
• A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Most of the year, lawns only need one inch of water per week.
• Check the soil moisture levels with a soil probe, spade or large screwdriver. You don’t need to water if the soil is still moist. If your grass springs back when you step on it, it doesn’t need water yet.
• If your lawn does require watering, do so early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.
• Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
• Water in several short sessions rather than one long one, in order for your lawn to better absorb moisture and avoid runoff.
• Use a broom or blower instead of a hose to clean leaves and other debris from your driveway or sidewalk.
• Avoid leaving sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours.
• In extreme drought, allow lawns to die in favor of preserving trees and large shrubs.