Water use is high, voluntary restrictions are on

Water use remains high — nearly double what’s used in winter — and the past weekend’s rain didn’t end drought concerns, so Aquarion Water Company is asking customers to practice water conservation.

Aquarion is extending voluntary restrictions on non-essential outdoor water use, such as lawn watering and offering suggestions for indoor conservation as well.

“Obviously any rain is helpful, but we will continue asking customers to conserve water, specifically to limit outdoor irrigation to two days a week, maximum,” said Peter Fazekas, Aquarion’s director of public relations. “We continue to see very very high water usage throughout all of our 67 Connecticut systems.”

“We’ve had consecutive days of over 127 million gallons of water used on a daily basis. We’re definitely talking record usage there,” he added. “We’re not really seeing a lot of conservation…”

The 51 communities served by Aquarion’s 67 Connecticut water systems average daily water use of about 90 million gallons a day in the summer, and 65 million gallons a day in the winter.

So the recent trend of using nearly 127 million gallons daily represents almost double the level of winter water use.

“We’ll continue to monitor on a weekly basis our water sources and customer usage and see if anything needs to change moving forward,” Fazekas said.

“The next step as far as conservation would be a mandatory conservation level.”

In mid July, following a Connecticut Department of Health advisory for water consumption,  Aquarion cited “significant lack of rainfall” and asked customers to conserve water and reduce non-essential outdoor water use.

It said conditions in the state ranged from “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Water in, water out

The recent rain hasn’t substantially change that, according to Fazekas.

“As far as the recovery of water sources, it takes into the early part of the following year before we start to see our reservoirs refilling again,” he explained. “A few rainstorms — helpful, but

at this point, with the demand so high, that water’s just going right out again.”

“If you compare this year’s water level to last year’s, we’re definitely below compared to the same point last year, as far as our reservoir levels.”

Timing is everything

Fazekas said the company’s request that customers limit watering to two days a week focuses on automatic sprinkling — “irrigation systems, hose-end sprinklers, that type of irrigation.”

Also, if lawns are to be watered, timing is important.

“Either early morning or evening — when you do it in the middle of the day, up to 50% of the water is just evaporating,” Fazekas said.

“On the inside of the home the greatest water conservation savings are in your bathroom — if you have a high efficiency toilet,” Fazekas said. “...Also, washing machines are a place where a lot of water is used. You definitely only want to wash when you have a full load. And, simply, the shower. If you could reduce your showering time to five minutes that’s going to be helpful.”

‘WaterSense’ logo

If people are shopping for water-saving appliances, he said, they can look for the “WaterSense” logo, which identifies conservation-oriented models by numerous manufacturers.

“That’s an EPA logo,” he said. “You know then it’s a water-saving toilet.”

Most of the water Aquarion pumps in Ridgefield comes from the Hemlocks Reservoir in Fairfield, but the system in town is also served by a number of wells.