Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don't Stop

Current drought monitor map
Drought monitor last month

While conservation measures enacted since late August have been helpful, Mother Nature's teasing response to pleas for drenching rain has been a tad less so.

Take today for instance:  Just enough to screw up your outdoor barbecue but not nearly enough to float a boat on the growing sandbar at closed Atkins Reservoir. 

On September 21, the day Atkins shut down, after we had been pumping close to one million gallons of water per day for the previous few weeks, our main reservoir stood at 9' 7" down with 60 million gallons of water remaining from 200 million gallons when full.

 Atkins Reservoir October 7th still at only 34% of capacity

On Friday, October 7, with no pumping at all for 17 days, our main reservoir stood at 8' 10" down with 76 million gallons remaining from full capacity of 200 million gallons.

 Atkins Reservoir sandbar 8/21
Atkins sandbar 10/7.  Note hot tub depression once fully underwater

In other words not all that much recharge has taken place.  And if the reservoir had not gone off line when it did it would now be at a historic low level.

Water consumption over the past few weeks has been around 3 million gallons per day but not all that much less than a year ago at this same time when no water ban was in effect.

Click to enlarge/read

Note Columbus Day weekend drop off in consumption with UMass kids gone
UMass is a ghost town over Indigenous Peoples Day weekend

The drought task force is expected to advise municipalities to maintain their water bans until at least Halloween and if a lot more rain has not fallen by then probably into the winter.

The Amherst Select Board enacted fines for water ban violations as an emergency edict until the ban is lifted but stopped short of making it a regular town bylaw since the Department of Environmental Protection would then have the authority to force the town to implement it at any time in the future.

Currently our wells are holding up just fine, although there's no way to measure the supply they draw from.

So as long as a Creepy Clown does not sabotage Wells 3 or 4 ...


Nina Koch said...

No apostrophe to make a plural (Wells not Well's). Copy editor reporting for duty.

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks Nina. I always throw in a minor mistake or two just to see if people are paying attention.

And I figure if they read the entire article and that's all they complain about, it's a good thing.

Nina Koch said...

Actually I have been meaning to compliment you on your coverage of water scarcity. Folks need to take it much more seriously. This is going to be a critical issue in the 21st century. People seem to think the supply is unlimited and that's just not true. Groundwater depletion is hitting other parts of the country before us, but it will get here too.

Anonymous said...

Rather than fining the occasional "violator" for watering her lawn - more likely - watering her precious fruit tree or home vegetable garden, the Select Board should consider a water use fee structure which rewards those who conserve and discourages those who use excess water. Right now, the Town charges folks a flat fee (about $30-50 for the period between meter-readings) regardless of whether there is 0 water use (someone away for the summer or winter, or perhaps for a semester or year on a sabbatical) or 300 cubic feet (about 2200 gallons) of use; and then it charges a flat rate past that for each additional 100 cubic feet. Wouldn't it be wiser to charge nearly nothing for that first amount, then step up the rate as more and more water is used? The rate could be normalized by dividing by the number of bedrooms, of course, but whatever rate structure is worked out, it should create a market incentive to use a limited amount of water (for whatever purpose the resident deems necessary), and not have those who use little water subsidizing those who use more water. And the creative use of rainwater and gray-water should also be encouraged.

- Desert Farmer

kevin said...

I propose a noflush-surcharge on beer, how many flushes is one beer? If you bring the can back full, you get your surcharge back.

Anonymous said...

So people are not reducing their water use vs. previous years, not getting caught and not getting punished as threatened. This is news given all the threats that this would be stopped. The news is that all the efforts have been a waste.

Minor changes in the water rates for a bunch of rich people will not matter or change their behavior. They raised sales taxes on everything by 25% a few years ago and no one really flinched, we just grabbed our ankles as retail sales were reduced and profit was allocated from the private sector to the public coffer...and away from incomes....and out of state (we participated in this incentive program and moved jobs out of Mass).

Plus, you can still buy water on the private psuedo-free market.

Anonymous said...

Our water situation needs to be kept in the local news.
A banner at the top of The Bulletin each week- Phone calls from the town with updates (more important than a Homecoming Parade or cancellation of July 4th fireworks)
Local news stations need to say more than "we need rain" during their weather forecasts. Water bans should be reported like winter storm parking bans.
Larry's photos and a drive by of the reservoir (everyone should drive by to see it) tell the story quite clearly. We need to continue to conserve water.