Rain restores supply but worries remain

07/15/2010 12:00 AM |

Although the area received more than an inch and a half of rain this week, the Riverhead Water District is continuing to call on residents to water their lawns only on alternating days as a way to conserve the town’s water supply.

The district asks that customers with odd street numbers water only on odd calendar days and those with even street numbers water on even calendar days.

Water district superintendent Gary Pendzick said the request will remain in effect until further notice.

As of Tuesday, Mr. Pendzick said the town’s five tanks were nearly full and had reached sustainable levels after Saturday’s rainfall. Only last week, he said, they were dangerously low, which could be a problem for firefighters battling a blaze.

“We got a little rain over the weekend which helped us tremendously,” he said.

Mr. Pendzick also recommended watering lawns for shorter periods, before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m., when cooler temperatures cause less evaporation. Doing so, he said, could save a household 300 gallons of water per month.

During last week’s heat wave, Mr. Pendzick asked all water district residents to stop watering their lawns completely.

The region has seen 3.62 inches of rainfall since June 1, more than an inch less than average for that time period, according to the National Weather Service at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. About a half-inch fell on Tuesday, putting the area about that much over the average for July.

Before recent rains, this summer’s sparse rainfall contrasted with last year’s, when the region got more than 10 inches between June 1 and July 14.

Joseph Gergela, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said that though farmers are not worried yet, irrigating crops in the dry weather has been tough.

“We need a couple good soakers to break the drought,” he said.

Mr. Gergela said the high temperatures have forced farmers to harvest crops a little faster and earlier than usual and that it’s hard for some to keep up with both harvesting and selling the increased supply.

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