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Water Supply Emergencies

Massachusetts is often considered a ‘water-rich’ state. Abundant precipitation results from frontal systems or storms that move across the continent and exit through the Northeast. However, as we have experienced in recent years, Massachusetts can have extended periods of dry weather, from single season events to multi-year events. Unlike most disaster or emergency situations, droughts are long-term, slow developing events and only rarely are resolved quickly. Conservation measures, even during non-drought periods are steps we can all take.

Indoor Water Conservation:

  • Only run the dishwasher and clothes washer when they are fully loaded.
  • Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator, eliminating the need to run tap water to cool it off.
  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it, such as watering plans or garden.
  • Do not waste water waiting for it to get hot, either capture it for other uses, or heat it on the stove or microwave.
  • Do not use running water to thaw frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Put plastic bottles in your toilet tank. Fill them with water and put them in the tank, safely away from operating mechanisms. In an average home, the bottles may displace and save ten or more gallons of water a day. Do not use a brick, which can deteriorate and cause plumbing issues.
  • Check for leaks in faucets, toilets, pipes, hoses and couplings. They can often be repaired with only an inexpensive washer. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water over year.
  • Check for leaks by “zero-reading” your water meter. Check your meter before and after a half-hour (or longer) period when no water is being used. If your meter registers water use, you have a leak.
  • Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors.
  • Take short showers, not baths.
  • Don’t let the water run when washing your face, shaving or brushing your teeth.

Outdoor Water Conservation:

  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. A heavy rain can eliminate the need for watering for up to two weeks. Most lawns need about 1″ of water per week. Lawns only need to be watered every 5 to 7 days in the summer.
  • To prevent water loss through evaporation, water your lawn during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning or shortly before sunset.
  • Raise the lawn mower blade to at least 3″ or its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture.
  • If you have a swimming pool, get a cover. The loss of water by evaporation will be cut by 90 percent.
  • Avoid purchasing recreational toys that require a constant stream of water.
  • Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose that can be adjusted to a fine spray.
  • Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Above all, carefully follow any water restrictions that may have been issued in your local community. Remember, you are included in the restrictions, even if your water comes from a private well.