EXETER – The Select Board voted unanimously to enact emergency water-use restrictions Monday, amid ongoing drought conditions in the region at the recommendation of the Department of Public Works.

The order will restrict property owners’ use of water for landscaping to every other day. Odd-numbered properties will be able to water lawns and gardens on odd-numbered days, and even-numbered properties on even-numbered days, until the restriction is lifted. Property owners will only be able to water outside between the hours of 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

"Watering of landscapes whether it’s lawn or shrubbery; it’s very inefficient during the height of day temperatures, (and) you get a lot more bang for your buck if you’re watering when it’s not hot and not evaporating as quickly," said Public Works Director Jennifer Perry. "This does apply to not just residents who are on the town water supply, but because of state legislation, it does authorize the town to limit private well use for the irrigation of lawns and landscaping."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, southern New Hampshire was recently upgraded from "abnormally dry" to "moderate drought," which per town ordinance, gives the Select Board authority to implement water-use restrictions.

Perry said so far this year they have had 17 inches of rain, 6 inches less than the typical amount of rain Exeter receives annually by this point.

"We’ve only received a half an inch of rain in the last four days," Perry said Monday. "The reality is we’re in a fairly significant precipitation deficit for 2020. When we typically receive 45 inches (of rain) over the year, 6 inches is a significant portion we’re in deficit right now."

Perry said DPW crews recently observed the department’s Exeter River measuring gauge off Haigh Road in Brentwood, which read the stream was flowing at 5 cubic feet per second and has been in use for 22 years. She said approximately 70% of the town’s surface water is drawn from the Exeter River.

"That (reading) is about the lowest (the river) has been for this date in history," Perry said.

When asked by Select Board Chairman Niko Papakonstantis on a possible date to when the water restriction could be lifted, Perry said it was too soon to tell, adding, "It won’t be a week."