Shrewsbury enacts water restrictions

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Shrewsbury enacts water restrictions
Shrewsbury’s Town Hall stands within the town’s municipal campus off Maple Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – In response to the current drought, the Board of Selectmen approved additional water restrictions during its meeting July 26. 

The restrictions went into place July 27 and will remain through Sept. 30. They prohibit filling swimming pools or adding more than two inches to an existing, filled pool. Further, this prohibited the use of automatic or manual lawn sprinklers or sprinkler systems.

However, it allows children’s wading pools and hand-held device to do outdoor watering in gardens, shrubs, trees and the lawn.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Dan Rowley said the town was in “good shape” in terms of its water levels and was meeting the demand. 

“But as the heat continues and the drought gets worse, we’re certainly getting concerned,” Rowley said. “We think it would be a good time to consider what the [state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs] recommended in terms of banning the nonessential outdoor watering.”

EEA Secretary Beth Card recently declared a Level 3-Critical Drought in the northeast and central regions of the state, which includes Shrewsbury. 

Rowley said the EEA’s recommendation is to minimize overall water use and stop outdoor watering. 

Rowley said that the town has a “calendar trigger” for water use restrictions that is put into place every single year, starting on May 1. These restrictions are currently in place and restrict nonessential outdoor water use to two days a week before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

However, Rowley noted that there is also a trigger based on stream flow, which is 1.9 cubic feet per second at the Quinsigamond River in North Grafton.

Rowley said Shrewsbury was about at that trigger point – currently at 2.09 cubic feet per second – and the town may see it reach the trigger point over the next couple of days. That restriction would be one day a week for nonessential watering.

“This is the first year since I’ve been here where the stream flow has actually gotten close to the trigger point,” he said. 

The last time Shrewsbury implemented additional water use restrictions was in 2016. 

Rowley said the town will continue to monitor the situation.

“If we need to move to a full outdoor water ban, that may be something we want to consider,” he said.

Shrewsbury is not the only community to take action in response to the drought. Westborough and Hudson recently implemented similar restrictions.

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