In accordance with Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines, the City is banning all nonessential outdoor watering and water use, effective immediately. The outright ban replaces odd/even day and time-of-day restrictions implemented on July 18. This follows Tuesday’s “Level 3 Critical Drought” declaration for the Connecticut River Valley by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Residents and businesses are strongly encouraged to cease the installation of new sod, seeding and landscaping; washing of hard surfaces, such as patios, driveways and siding; and continue to follow the bans on non-commercial car washing and filling or “topping off” of swimming pools.
“Unfortunately, one rain event is not going to get us out of this situation and we must tighten our mandatory water-use restrictions,” said Department of Public Works Director Marlo Warner. “We’ve been politely reminding people about restrictions to this point, but given the circumstances, warnings and fines are the next step.”
Under the City Code, violations of water-use restrictions carry a $50 fine for the first offense and a $100 fine for each subsequent offense.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has established exemptions to the outdoor water ban for health or safety reasons, by regulation, for production of food or fiber, for maintenance of livestock or to meet the core function of a business.
With the Leyden Glen Reservoir offline for dredging through the summer, the City has been drawing its water exclusively from the Green River and the Millbrook Wellfield. The Green River is at its lowest streamflow in many years. The wellfield is holding up well, but is showing signs of stress.
“Even if you have your own well, it almost always still comes from the same source as the public water supply, as long as you are in the same river basin,” said Greenfield Health Director Jennifer Hoffman. “Any water conservation efforts you make can have a great benefit on your own water supply, and the community's water supply.”
As dry conditions persist, the potential for drought-induced fires has also increased. Outdoor fires are discouraged and camp fires should not be left until they are completely extinguished.
“While the City continues to have enough water to respond to fires and other emergencies, water supplies are well below normal levels and this poses a potential risk to fire protection,” said Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan. “We’re asking people to be extra vigilant when it comes to any activities that increase the risk of brush and forest fires such as outdoor cooking and discarding smoking materials.”
Questions or concerns about water restrictions can be directed to the Department of Public Works at 413-772-1528, ext. 6106; questions or concerns about drought-related public health issues can be directed to the Health Department at 413-772-1404, ext. 2100.