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Be Prepared: Water Supplies Will Be Stressed

Date: May 25, 2021

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  –Benjamin Franklin

Over the past 12 months, water supplies across the state have been stressed. The pandemic confined people to their homes and drove a migration of out-of-staters to their vacation homes, which resulted in an increase in water demand on many water systems. Seasonal water systems, in particular, routinely reported to NHDES in 2020 that their water use from March through May was generally equivalent to what they typically encounter in July and August. In addition, drought plagued much of the state through the summer and fall, causing low groundwater and surface water levels. Many water systems were prepared to manage these stresses. A handful of systems were not. Those that were not were forced to make hasty emergency decisions. 

While December, 2020 was wet, overall precipitation from January through March was below average causing droughty conditions to expand across the entire state. The forecast for May does not show any indication that drought conditions will be alleviated. Also, it is expected that once again an above-normal number of out-of-staters will migrate north early. In preparation, it is recommended that all water systems: 

  • Check the operation of your source/master meter(s). Install a new meter(s) if necessary.
  • Start recording meter readings frequently (daily/weekly) so you can recognize an unusual increase in use when you see it.
  • Consider doing a leak detection program now (or early) so leaks can be located and repaired before the high-use season begins. See the list of Firms Offering Leak Detection Services.
  • Develop a plan to both communicate water use restrictions and implement those restrictions, then spread the word early and notify your customers about the plan. See Guidance on Implementing Restrictions
  • If you previously experienced a failure in a water supply well or lost well yield, assess your supply well’s capacity with a pumping test before the summer.
  • Begin the replacement well permitting process for any well that is not producing adequate volumes of water.
  • Sign up to receive the NHDES Drought Updates so that you’re equipped with the most up-to-date information and projections to support any water use restrictions at your system.

Remember, avoiding a water shortage or outage emergency requires taking common-sense action now in anticipation of increases in water demand…. Be Prepared!