Chatham Wrestles with Hand Watering Ban Amid Critical Drought

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

CHATHAM – Chatham officials are wrestling with how to further reduce water use as the Cape Cod region continues to struggle with drought conditions.

Public Works Director Thomas Temple said the recent critical drought declaration by the state urges communities to take up stricter conservation policies, including a potential ban on hand watering. 

Select Board Chair Jeffrey Dykens and other members said during Tuesday’s meeting that such a ban may be a step too far until more data can be collected on town water use.

“I think we’ve been fairly aggressive in implementing the restrictions. I’m all for saving the aquifer and all for one, one for all, but to go to no hand watering—which I have not been convinced yet is a major contributor of our shortfall in water—it seems fairly Draconian to me,” Dykens said.

In other towns like Provincetown and Truro, all outdoor watering has been banned.

Board members including Shareen Davis said that as they consider advanced measures like banning hand watering, they need to plan for drought as a recurring, seasonal problem. 

“This is not the New England that gets the rain every month and we are okay. As the climate change issue has come forth, we’re looking at droughts being more the norm for New England than they used to be,” Davis said.

The board elected to revisit whether to ban hand watering at their next meeting September 6.

Those who violate the mandate face fines of $200 dollars a day, though the select board has considered increasing the cost at a later date if necessary.

About Grady Culhane

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