BRISTOL â€“ As the abnormally dry weather persists the cityâ€™s reservoirs have fallen to 63% capacity, but voluntary water use restrictions are helping, according to Robert Longo, superintendent of the cityâ€™s water and sewer department.
â€śIf we get to 50% we will go into mandatory restrictions, so weâ€™re hoping to avoid that with the changing of the seasons and people watering now that the growing season is done,â€ť he told the City Council at its September meeting.
When the reservoirs dropped to 68% capacity several weeks ago the city imposed voluntary water restrictions, said Councilwoman Mary Fortier, council liaison to the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners.
â€śWeâ€™re asking that residents only use their outside water on even or odd days based on the number of their house,â€ť she said. â€śIn other words if you have an odd house number, you can use water on odd numbered days to water grass, wash cars, etc., and only on even days if your house is even numbered.â€ť
Longo said that they did see a dramatic decrease in usage once the voluntary restrictions were issued.
â€śWe canâ€™t thank our community enough, but we are still in a very dry season, as well as the rest of the state. So until we see some measurable precipitation weâ€™re asking for additional help,â€ť Longo said.
In a press release posted on the departmentâ€™s website in August when the voluntary restrictions were announced, Longo said â€śLack of precipitation across the state has required many water departments to enacted restrictions to their customers back in June. The Bristol Water Department has been working diligently since June to utilize all of our supplies and the work has helped us prevent restrictions up to today.â€ť
The department has triggers in its Emergency Response Plan that require it to issue notice when the reservoirs fall to certain percentages. The first trigger is Drought Alert, which goes into effect if the reservoir levels fall below 75% capacity anytime from July to December.
This first trigger is an internal alert to the department staff to begin preparations for a drought, which they did back in June â€śto make sure all emergency procedures were in place well before needed,â€ť according to the press release.
The second trigger is Drought Advisory which is put in place once the reservoirs drop below 70%. On Aug. 24, the reservoirs fell to 68%
â€śWater levels at all reservoirs and wells will continue to be monitored regularly to assure that the levels are stabilizing before mandatory restrictions would be required, however without some precipitation, mandatory restrictions are likely to follow,â€ť said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu at that time.
In addition to the voluntary residential restrictions, the department â€śreached out to large water users including the Parks Department, Public Works, Fire Department and the Board of Education asking for their cooperation in reducing usage at their facilities,â€ť Longo said in the press release.
In late 2016 and early 2017, Bristol and much of the state endured a very bad drought, when the cityâ€™s reservoirs fell below 40% of their capacity. The U.S. Drought Monitor at that time released a report that put much of the state in â€śextreme droughtâ€ť conditions.
According to the National Weather Service, the forecast in the Bristol area calls for a chance of rain showers on Thursday and Friday but otherwise mostly clear and sunny weather for the rest of the week.
For more information on the cityâ€™s water restrictions, call 860-582-7431 or visit www.bristolwaterdept.org .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.