Southwick DPW lifts outdoor water use restriction

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – On Thursday Oct. 6, Southwick DPW Director Randy Brown announced that the outdoor water use restriction has been lifted.

The Mass DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) gives towns the option on Oct. 1 whether that town would like to lift their restriction or not.

“Based on the language of our permit, we were able to lift the restrictions,” said Brown. “We followed up on the opportunity.”

The Mass DEP permit has certain water withdrawal limitations that measure if a community is able to lift their restriction or not.

The Mass DEP reported to the Southwick DPW that for the month of October, the town’s outdoor water use was anywhere from 700,000 to 800,000 gallons per day.

The number of gallons was a clear drop off as on Sept. 21 Brown reported that the town was averaging anywhere from one million to 1.4 million gallons per day.

With outdoor water use involving irrigation, it was a fair determination for Brown to make that eliminating the restriction wouldn’t cause another rise in the outdoor water use.

“The growing season is just about over,” said Brown. “There’s really not a huge need to go on with irrigation practices at this point.”

While winter will be approaching in the next coming months, there won’t be a necessity for a water restriction to be put in place. But, according to Brown, it is more than likely that some sort of outdoor water restriction will be implemented again sometime in 2017.

In Mass DEP’s Water Withdrawal Permit, during the months of July, August, and September of 2016, the mean daily stream flow going through the Westfield River dropped below 174 cubic feet per second for three consecutive days. In the months of May and June of 2016, the mean daily stream flow only dropped 502 cubic feet per second for three straight days.

Starting with July, the summer months are always expected to cause an increase in outdoor water usage, so Brown and the rest of the DPW will be preparing for that drop.

“More than likely, those low flow numbers will be met,” said Brown.

Despite the fact that outdoor water use will not play a factor in the next coming months, Brown noted that the state of Massachusetts could enact either a regional or statewide water restriction at any moment.

The state’s Drought Advisory Committee discusses all of the factors that go into a restriction: the current conditions, forecasts, as well as reports from the Agricultural and Environmental Communities.

After exhausting all of the possible factors, the state would then have the power to make a decision. It would no longer be a decision by the Southwick DPW.

“They (the state) have the ability to make recommendations to implement regional water restrictions if they feel it is warranted,” said Brown.

Currently, any possible regional or statewide water restriction has been under review all summer long and no sort of determination has been made.