Chatham Passes Mandatory Water Conservation Restrictions

CHATHAM – The Chatham select board recently passed mandatory water conservation restrictions to help deal with drought conditions in the region. 

Outdoor watering at odd-numbered addresses is restricted to odd-numbered calendar days, while outdoor watering at even-numbered addresses is restricted to even-numbered calendar days.

Department of Public Works Director Tom Temple said that other towns like Brewster have already approved similar odd-even watering schedules in response to the U.S. Geological Survey reports that water levels are down.

“We’re approximately 16 inches below the average that we normally have at this time,” said Temple. 

Charles Bartlett, Chairman of the Chatham Water and Sewer Commission, echoed Temple’s concerns.

“And [the aquifer] is not only lower, it’s turning lower sooner than it’s done before. And it looks as though that customer demand for water is going to be high this year, with everybody looking forward to a busy summer. So we really do have an issue,” said Bartlett. 

Bartlett said all water committee members voted in favor of the recommendation to make the existing voluntary conservation mandate a mandatory one. 

Chatham utilizes the Monomoy Lens, one of six sources of water on Cape Cod from which several towns draw. Lack of rain and snow last season means the lens has not been replenished.

Recent summer weather has further exacerbated the issue, as rain water collects on newly-sprouted tree leaves and evaporates before it can penetrate the ground. 

Selectman Jeffrey Dykens said that even water pools along the town’s golf courses are showing effects of the drought conditions the region is experiencing. 

“I’ve never seen that pond at Seaside Links as low as it is now. Normally after rain and snow all winter, it’d be almost overflowing. And it is down appreciably,” said Dykens. 

Town officials said that depleted water levels can also overtax pumps as they each try to compensate for the wells that are beginning to dip below safe measurements, wearing them out quicker and increasing potential safety risks.

Town water bills will include a notification of the mandate for water users. 

Chief Water Operator Tom Barr said that the owner of the property violating the water conservation mandate would receive the associated fine.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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