ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Despite a Stage 2 water warning and mandatory water restrictions, Rockland County residents have not reduced their water usage enough to make a difference, according to Suez officials.
“This is serious stuff. Water is our most previous natural resource. It drives our economy, it keeps us healthy,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said on July 21 when he issued the warning. "The hope is that these measures that mainly affect outdoor water use will prevent the declaration of a Stage 3 Emergency.
Annual rainfall to date is 36 percent below average and the extremely hot, dry weather pattern is expected to continue -- placing further stress on groundwater resources. In total, Suez operates 60 wells in Rockland County including the Ramapo Valley Well Field.
“While we are currently meeting demand, we must take precautions to be sure that there is enough water for future needs with a focus on health, safety and fire protection,” said Chris Graziano, vice president and general manager of Suez operations in New York. “That’s why we are urging customers to cut back on water usage right away and follow Rockland County’s drought restrictions. This includes lawn irrigation because lawns are perennial and will bounce back when normal rainfall returns. Customer cooperation is key to making sure that we conserve this precious resource.”
Graziano said the drought, combined with high water usage, has stressed the Ramapo Valley Well Field, which provides approximately 20 percent of the Suez water supply. These wells are influenced by the Ramapo River, which is at lower than average levels. The river is not drought resilient and is particularly vulnerable when strong demand for water, dry conditions and very high temperatures coincide. With no significant rainfall in the forecast, there is no way to replenish this important supply and the Ramapo Valley Well Field may have to be shut down due to low river levels, he added.
This scenario is a longstanding limitation in Rockland’s system which occurs in times of low rainfall or drought conditions. It is not a reservoir supply issue. The Lake DeForest Reservoir, fed by the Hackensack River, is at approximately 85 percent of capacity, which is typical for this time of year.
“We are pumping close to maximum capacity from the Lake DeForest Plant and we cannot draw more water from Lake DeForest if the Ramapo Valley Well Field is taken off line,” said Graziano.
The current restrictions include:
- Properties with addresses ending in an odd number are instructed to water only on Mondays and Thursdays, and those with addresses ending in an even number only on Tuesdays and Fridays, between 2 and 6 a.m. for automatic, in-ground irrigation systems OR between 5 and 9 p.m. for manual sprinklers or hose fed irrigation.
- Water may not be used to wash non-public paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking areas and patios.
- With the exception of emergency vehicles, only commercial car washes can clean automobiles, trucks or trailers.
- Water cannot be served in restaurants unless the patron requests it.
- The use of flow-through (non-recycled) fountains, artificial waterfalls and reflecting pools is not allowed.
- Water cannot be used for flushing sewers or hydrants except for emergencies.
- All water leaks must be repaired within 48 hours.
- No bulk water supply from any source within the county may be exported outside the county.
Suez serves about 300,000 people throughout Rockland County.
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