HAMPTON FALLS – As drought conditions continue to plague the state, town officials find themselves faced with the possibility of initiating a private well water ban throughout the town in 2017, until conditions improve.
Fire Chief Jay Lord, who has been monitoring drought conditions in Hampton Falls, said the situation has been of concern since last winter. Low snow pack last winter, precipitation well below 50 percent of normal and high evaporation rates during the summer all contributed to the extreme drought. The National Weather Service is predicting below normal precipitation through the autumn as well.
Lord told selectmen at their last meeting that with the lack of heavy rains, and if there is no significant snow this winter, next year could mean trouble.
“I really think that next year you’re going to have to think about this,” Lord said.
Lord said once the ground freezes this fall, any occurring rain will simply run off the surface, rather than saturating it.
He said water conservation is imperative now and officials need to “push the message” about this “slow moving disaster.”
Lord reminded residents that lawns may turn brown, but they don’t die. The less frequently lawns are watered, according to Lord, the stronger the roots get.
While burning permits have been denied for some time now, Lord said bonfires are now also prohibited.
Lord also noted some fires, other than house fires, may be approached in a different manner.
“We won’t put it out; (we will) contain it,” Lord said, doing so until the fire burns itself out. “We don’t have a ton of water.”
Lord said he has checked and identified 28 water sources in town and that there is a good supply on Route 1.
Residents are being asked to conserve water for essential uses, such as drinking, cooking, sanitation, fire protection, laundry and dishes.
Selectmen noted that under RSA 41:11-d, the board has authority to restrict the watering of lawns from private wells and may have to implement this regulation in 2017 if the drought persists.
Lord recommended that residents log onto the N.H. Department of Environmental Services website, nhdes.gov, for further information and a number of specific recommended conservation options.
Relief from the drought may be coming. Weather.com is forecasting rain each day from this Friday through Tuesday and again from next Thursday through Sunday.