GLENVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As the Capital Region experiences an abnormally dry stretch of weather, a number of outdoor water restrictions have been put in place. Local municipalities are urging residents to comply before the situation gets worse.
Before Wednesday morning, the Capital Region hadn’t seen any measurable rainfall since June 11. The lack of rain, coupled with temperatures in the 90s, is leaving lawns, gardens and flower beds thirsty. Additionally, there has been a spike in pool installations this summer, so local municipalities are seeing a surge in demand for water.
As of Wednesday, NEWS10 ABC had received notifications of outdoor water restrictions for Stillwater, Rotterdam, Glenville, Niskayuna, Ballston, North Greenbush, and Colonie.
Jack Cunningham, Commissioner of Public Works for Colonie, said the restrictions are put in place to balance the system and maintain pressurization.
“Our average use is about 17 million gallons per day. Right now, we’re averaging about 24.5 million gallons per day,” said Cunningham.
In Colonie, they’re asking that any outdoor water use is done before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. before the sun starts scorching.
“We don’t want you sprinkling your lawn all day long during the hot periods of the day because it’s just going to evaporate,” said Cunningham.
The town of Glenville has issued a level two restriction. Public Works Commissioner, Tom Coppola, said that means, rather than voluntary water conservation, it’s now mandatory.
“I’ve been in this for roughly almost 14 years and I’ve never seen this. Not to this extreme,” said Coppola.
Their water supply is taken from the Mohawk River, and Coppola said the river water levels are very low right now partially due to a construction project on Lock 7 that was delayed as a result of COVID-19. Shane Mahar, a spokesperson for the Canal Corporation, told NEWS10 that, typically by now, the movable dams would have been installed to artificially raise the water levels to allow for boat traffic, but everything is behind schedule due to the pandemic. So without being manipulated, the water levels remain in a natural state and a lack of rainfall is keeping them low.
“The Mohawk River recharges the aquifer. So when the river is low it doesn’t have the ability or pressure to push water to recharge the aquifer. I don’t think it was foreseen by [Canal Corp] to realize what the affects may be on the municipal water supply, so that’s why I say this has all been extremely educational for everybody,” said Coppola.
Mahar NEWS10 they have started some work to temporarily mitigate the issue.
“The Canal Corporation already had plans to install the movable dams in preparation for the upcoming navigation season, but we accelerated the installation of the dam’s lower gates at Lock E-8 to help mitigate the current situation with the Great Flats Aquifer,” said Mahar.
Additionally, Coppola said one of Glenville’s wells is temporarily out of commission.
“One of them actually got low enough that it cavitated a pump so it would not draw water,” said Coppola.
To make matters worse, they also had a water main break Wednesday morning.
“It was a large break today. It was a 12-inch main, so that’s a significant amount of water,” said Coppola.
That’s why they said it’s so important that residents comply, so that they’re proactively preparing for the unexpected, whether it be another water main break or a house fire where crews would critically need good pressure.
“Things like that are unanticipated, so we need that reserve now more than ever. It’s really a coordinated effort with the residents to understand where we’re at,” said Coppola.
“Usually every town puts restrictions in place in the summer months, but particularly during this climate that we’re experiencing, it’s particularly important to ask residents to follow the guidelines,” said Cunningham.