NHDES Says Last Chance to Conserve and Asks Residents to Report Well Supply Issues
Concord, NH – As drought conditions persist throughout the state and worsen in parts of New Hampshire, The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is urging residents to conserve water now, and to report well problems to the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state remains in drought and 8.5% of the state has now been elevated to D3-Extreme Drought, the third of four stages of drought. The lack of snow pack this past winter, along with well-below average precipitation this year are causing groundwater and surface water levels to continue drop.
As the growing season winds down and cooler temperatures set in, there is only a small window of time left to eliminate non-essential outdoor use in an effort to sustain supplies to meet essential future needs. NHDES recommends lawn watering stop and lawns be left to go into dormancy, which is a normal process for a lawn and occurs every winter. NHDES also recommends the elimination of all other non-essential outdoor use, such as car washing, washing down of driveways and patios, and power washing. Those residents on private wells are at a higher risk of experiencing supply issues and should conserve indoors and outdoors, as well as spread out water usage throughout the day to allow the well to recharge between uses. Information on opportunities to conserve such as fixing leaks and replacing outdated water fixtures may be found on the NHDES Drought Management webpage.
Since the current method for classifying drought was established in 2000, 2016 was the only other year NH experienced extreme drought. Currently, groundwater levels are below normal and similar to 2016, residential well owners across the state are reporting supply issues. Well drillers are experiencing a significant increase in business due to residents looking to remedy well issues and others hoping to avoid them. Due to the demand, well drillers are reporting waits greater than 6 weeks to get a new well drilled and others are booked until the end of the year. Many people deepened their wells after the 2016 drought, which may be providing resiliency for this drought. Some residents are seeking other options, such as hiring a bulk water hauler to fill their wells. While bulk water may seem to provide some temporary relief from dry well conditions, NHDES does not encourage this practice as it poses risks to the integrity of the well and water quality and generally has little benefit, as a great deal of water is lost to water seeping out of the well. If citizens wish to do this, the following steps should be followed to provide recharge to a drinking water well:
- Water needs to be obtained from a public water system or a source of water approved in accordance with regulations for Emergency Bulk Water Supply for Public Water Systems;
- Water needs to be transported in a dedicated tank for potable water that is consistent rules for Emergency Bulk Water Supply for Public Water Systems; and
- Water must be discharged into the well using hoses that are dedicated for use with potable water and using sanitary handling practices.
Residential well owners are requested to report water supply issues to NHDES using the "Residential Well Impact Survey" on the NHDES Drought Management webpage.