Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 23 July 2010 00:00
This month, customers of the Jericho Water District received emergency notification phone calls telling them of a serious drought situation and asking them not to water their lawns until they received further notification.
The Enterprise Pilot called the Oyster Bay Water District and was told it is faring well in this drought situation. OBWD Superintendent Carl Dahlem said, “We are fine, but our residents should adhere to the Nassau County sprinkler regulations of watering on odd or even days according to their house address and not watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.” That regulation is in effect all year long.
In speaking with Jericho Water District Superintendent Pete Logan and business manager Kathleen Cannon, they explained the issues in the 37-square-mile district, the largest commissioner-run district in the state of New York. It covers East Norwich, Jericho, Syosset, Woodbury, Muttontown and Brookville, as well as parts of the Villages of Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow.
Superintendent Logan said their first notice went out on July 1 telling people to curtail lawn watering. After July 6 they notified them to not water their lawns at all until further notice. Those notifications went out on July 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8.
Superintendent Logan said, “We have a large amount of five and more than five-acre properties – the lot sizes are drastically larger than other districts and lawn watering as we have seen is the biggest draw on the water system. So when they want their lawns green they use a lot of water.”
Ms. Cannon said, “Jericho has an escalating or tiered usage rate and the more water you use the higher rate you will be paying - to try to encourage people to save. We have four different rates: 0 to 10,000 gallons; 10,001 to 30,000; 30,001 to 100,000 and over 100,001 is the last tier.”
When asked how long it will take for the emergency to be over, Superintendent Logan said on Friday, July 16, “We are looking at Friday at 92 degrees; with three more days of over 90 degrees and no rain. Next week we are looking at scattered thunder showers and high 80s and 90s so that will continue the lack of substantial rain. Last Wednesday and Thursday (July 14 and 15) there was some rain. This Friday morning we still saw that people were out watering because we saw there was an increase in watering use.
“We remind them of the regulations but when they have five acres of lawn they want them irrigated and many water every day. We do send out violation notices to those people. They are not fined but they risk getting a ticket from a Nassau County Police Officer if they see it happening since they are breaking a county regulation.”
Mr. Logan added a point of interest, “Our minimum pumpage per day is in December and January where we use between four and five million gallons a day. Our peak pumpage is in the summer months of June, July and August. On June 30, the pumpage was almost 30 million gallons. So you can see where a lot of that water ends up.
“Our most recent data shows that on July 7 of this year our peak demand was over 37 million gallons on that one day,” he said.
As for the golf courses in those areas, he said every golf course and country club has its own well. Therefore, on their own greens and fairways they use their own well water. That includes the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course in Woodbury which has its own well. They pump non-drinking water from the well.
The Jericho Water District commissioners are looking at the recent heat wave and looking at several possibilities to solve the problems involved. Those actions could mean putting in a new well, or increasing capacity on other wells.
The district also has a water conservationist on staff, Jane Barbato, who works with developers informing them of what types of drought resistant and native plants to use in landscaping to conserve water.