Saturday July 14, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- City officials want residents to curtail their outdoor water usage in an effort to head off a potential water shortage due to the current drought-like conditions.

The Pittsfield Department of Public Utilities on Friday urged home and business owners to cut back on watering their lawns and gardens, washing vehicles and filling swimming pools.

In addition, city water users face a $50 fine if they operate unattended lawn sprinklers between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The town of Hinsdale on Friday issued a water emergency by restricting the use of sprinklers until further notice.

While local rainfall is three inches below normal since June 1, Pittsfield’s six reservoirs are at normal levels for July, according to Public Utilities Commissioner Bruce I. Collingwood. Nevertheless, Collingwood noted that the city’s water usage has doubled within the past week due to a lack of rain, which has necessitated water conservation measures.

"The unusually high demand ... does cause localized pressure and supply problems and makes it difficult to maintain proper water storage tank levels throughout the system," he said.

If lower-than-normal storage tank levels do occur, the water pressure in some parts of the city could be reduced, Collingwood said.

Several other Berkshire communities with municipal water supplies say their reservoirs are at expected levels for mid-July, despite double or triple use of water during the past couple of weeks.


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However, a continued lack of precipitation may force those towns to issue water use restrictions.

"We’re pretty full now, but our water supply will drop quickly if it doesn’t rain as the brooks feeding our reservoirs have dried up," said Lenox Public Works Super intendent Jeff Vincent.

In Lee and Stockbridge the dry spell hasn’t hindered water supplies -- yet.

"Our reservoir is holding its own," said Stockbridge Water Superintendent Michael Buffoni. "We’re really lucky we’re in a good watershed."

"Despite a snow-less winter and the recent dry spell, our reservoirs are still in descent shape," added Lee’s Public Works Super intendent Chris topher Pompi. "Right now, there is absolutely no urgency at all regarding our water supply."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.