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As heat stresses water wells, Riverhead Town asks residents to conserve

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The 'tin man' style water tower on Pulaski Street in Riverhead.

Riverhead Town is asking residents to conserve water and limit lawn irrigation as a drought that has gripped Long Island and stressed the town’s water district wells enters its third month.

Riverhead Water District Superintendent Mark Conklin said “hot dry weather has caused an unprecedented amount of lawn irrigation to occur and we need to be mindful of our water reserves since these weather conditions increase the potential for fires. It really is a matter of public safety to limit water usage to be sure we can meet the demand in times of unforeseen emergencies.”

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Kacam, Long Island and southeastern Connecticut have been in a “moderate drought” since the end of April.

Supervisor Sean Walter said Riverhead’s large commercial properties irrigate their lawns in the early morning, taxing the system most between 2 and 6 a.m. Mr. Walter said the district can pump as much as 24 million gallons of water each day, enough to nearly drain the town’s water tanks.

“I believe it is only common sense that we ask our citizens and businesses to limit watering their lawns and to curb water use in general,” Mr. Walter said in a statement.

Mr. Walter advised residents to set their automatic sprinklers to go off at night before midnight, when the system isn’t overloaded.

Mr. Walter said a town water plant’s motors failed Tuesday night due to “power fluctuations,” shutting down two water wells around 5 p.m., Mr. Walter said. But by 11 p.m., the wells were back online thanks to Mr. Conklin and his water district staff.

“Mark Conklin is a genius,” Mr. Walter said.

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Photo: The town’s water tower on Pulaski Street (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)