Update, July 13, 2018: 

With our daily water supply being seriously challenged, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith is strongly urging residents and businesses to reduce lawn irrigation to help conserve water for the foreseeable future.

Sprinkler systems require an enormous increase in water usage, driving usage up as much as 80 percent.  And while sunny skies and hot temperatures make for great beach days, they make refilling town water tanks a daily challenge.  Without an opportunity to catch up on the supply, the tanks are no longer being filled to capacity daily, and each subsequent day sees their levels dropping.

As every effort to conserve water is necessary at this time, residents and businesses are encouraged to follow these sprinkler/irrigation guidelines:

  • Daily watering in not necessary, nor is it optimal for lawn care. Consider alternating days, or watering every third day. 
  • Water early in the morning to maximize dew, or later in the evening after household demand has dropped. 
  • Reduce the run time per zone. 
  • Double check to be sure that sprinkler heads are working properly and are adjusted so that only the lawn, and not the street, is being watered.

For more information about water conservation, see the Riverhead Water District newsletter at https://www.townofriverheadny.gov/docview.aspx?docid=48538 or call 631-727-3205.

On a typical hot summer day, the Riverhead Water District needs to pump up to 20 million gallons of water, using all 17 of the town’s wells. The town estimates that up to 80 percent of the increased demand is for irrigation. That’s more than six times more water needed than on a typical winter day, when only three or four wells can supply the town’s demand.

In order to avoid the need to construct more multimillion dollar wells to serve a few peak days, the Riverhead Water District has met with large water users like irrigation system contractors and residential homeowners association, and is encouraging all residents to follow similar suggestions for sprinklers and irrigation systems:

• Participate in the ODD/EVEN program — If your house number is odd, water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and if your home number is even, water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

• Water before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

• Reduce irrigation run time by 10 percent per zone. (For instance, if the current setting is 10 minutes per zone, reduce it to 9 minutes)

• Add a rain sensor so your sprinkler system automatically shuts off when it rains, and avoid overwatering, which makes plants prone to pests and adds to storm water runoff, which pollutes our water. Longer, more infrequent watering saves water and promotes root growth.

Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith reminds residents that “a few simple steps can make a huge difference in assuring that we have a good supply of drinking water, sufficient capacity for emergency and preserve and protect our environment.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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