As drought deepens, more communities placing limits on outdoor watering

  • High water levels at Lake Penacook means Concord has not had to issue water restrictions. David Brooks

From staff and write reports
Published: 7/13/2018 2:12:56 PM

More than 40 New Hampshire communities are recommending or mandating restrictions on outdoor water use now that half of New Hampshire has officially entered a drought and state regulators are recommending that outdoor water use be limited until conditions improve.

The National Weather Service drought monitor says 45 percent of the state, including all of Merrimack County, is in moderate drought because of shortage of rain over the past three years, while the rest of the state is considered “abnormally dry.”

The state Department of Environmental Services recommends that community water systems restrict outdoor water use – with none used for landscaping – and limit any watering to between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m., when water is less likely to evaporate.

At least 42 communities, including a number in the Concord region, reported to the state that they had implemented voluntary or mandatory outdoor water use restrictions by Thursday afternoon.

Due to its water supply from Lake Penacook, Concord itself has not had to issue any restrictions, according to Marco Philippon, the city’s water treatment superintendent.

Under state law (RSA 41:11-d), towns and cities can ban outdoor watering for residences but not businesses once a drought designation is in effect. Attempts to extend the authority to cover businesses have been turned down by the state Legislature because of concern about the effect on some industries.

State water conservation Chief Stacey Herbold told New Hampshire Public Radio that New Hampshire is 1-to-3 inches below normal precipitation over the past three months.

“At this point, everything is pointing to a much dryer summer. So it’s very important that we all conserve,” she was quoted as saying. “We all need to do our part because we’re all sharing the same resource.”

Much of New Hampshire faced moderate to extreme drought conditions in 2016.

As of Thursday, Allenstown, Epsom, Gilford, Hooksett and Meredith were listed as having water restrictions on the Department of Environmental Services website.

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