While Connecticut residents were hoping to finally see some substantial rain this week, any precipitation that does occur isn’t expected to make any difference in drought conditions, and water companies around the state have begun to announce restrictions on water usage.
“It will provide very temporary relief,” Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, said of any rain coming this week. It will not put a dent in drought conditions, he added.
“You would need several storms of light to moderate rain so it has a chance to soak in,” Dunham said.
Weather reports had some areas in the state getting two inches or more on Monday, mostly in the New London area, but in places like New Haven, there was nothing. There may be more rain later in the week on Friday, but that, again, won’t make much of a difference, forecasters said.
As a way to help conserve water, officials in East Lyme, Norwich, and Putnam have asked for residents to comply with water use restrictions, state officials said.
On Aug. 15, the town of East Lyme enacted a mandatory, twice-weekly irrigation schedule for residents and businesses to follow until further notice. According to the notice, which outlines when people can water their lawns based on their addresses, homes and businesses that use automatic sprinkler irrigation systems often use more than 40% more water than properties where those systems aren’t in use.
The Aquarion Water Company has also issued a mandatory water conservation schedule for customers in Darien, East Granby, Fairfield, Granby, Greenwich, Groton, Mystic, New Canaan, Newtown, Simsbury, Stamford, Stonington, and Westport. The restriction will remain in place through Oct. 31.
Norwich Public Utilities (NPU), in its appeal to users, asked residential and commercial customers “make reasonable adjustments to their water use until conditions in the region improve.”
NPU officials said their two reservoirs were tracking below their five-year cycle and were at 82.8% of overall storage capacity as of early this month.
Among ways they suggest people conserve water are turning off sprinklers, postponing the planting of any new lawns or vegetation, taking shorter showers, and avoiding washing cars or power-washing homes and buildings.
The town of Putnam also issued a water usage restriction, meaning residents should avoid washing cars or watering lawns until further notice, officials said.
Last week, Gov. Ned Lamont declared Stage 3 drought conditions for New London and Windham Counties. The Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup, whose members made the recommendation to Lamont, is scheduled to meet again Sept. 8 to discuss whether to expand or pull back that designation.
The rest of Connecticut’s counties – Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and Tolland – are at Stage 2.
Martin Heft, undersecretary for the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, said residents should continue to conserve water wherever they can.
“We continue to ask people to be considerate about their water use,” Heft said, although it seems residents are doing their part. “People are heeding the call to voluntarily reduce their water usage.”