NEW CITY, NY – – Breaking: It is hot and dry outside. You probably knew that. What you might not have known is that a Stage II Water Emergency has been declared in Rockland. The news came on Thursday, from the office of County Executive Ed Day and Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert. They announced the Water Emergency, and explained that it means mandatory limitations on water used by all residents and businesses.
The mandatory water saving measures follow two earlier requests for voluntary conservation. These water saving measures, which primarily affect outdoor water use, apply to all residents and businesses, regardless whether they get their water from a public water supplier such as Suez, Nyack or Suffern, or from their own private well.
“Unfortunately, our weather has remained unusually hot and dry, and our water use has remained relatively high. Rainfall from March through June was 36% below average. We are now forced to put mandatory restrictions into place to reduce water use and preserve water to protect public health and safety,” said County Executive Day.
“If the water-saving restrictions are not followed,” Dr. Ruppert cautioned, referring to the restricitons below, “we may soon be forced into a Stage III water emergency, with more extreme water use restrictions. We must greatly reduce our water use now to ensure that enough water remains available for use in our homes and businesses, as well as for fire protection, through the rest of the summer. The health and safety of county residents must clearly be the highest priority when supplies are limited. Your cooperation with these restrictions is vital to ensure that enough water will be available for the remainder of the summer season.”
The County Executive urges residents to continue to use water efficiently indoors as well. For example, they recommend using low-flow shower heads and toilets (look for the Water Sense label if purchasing new fixtures), fixing any leaks, sweeping rather than washing paved surfaces, running only full loads in washing machines and dish washers, and not using toilets to dispose of tissues.
The water restrictions, via the County Executive’s office, are as follows:
- Properties with addresses ending in an odd number are instructed to water only on Mondays and Thursdays, and those with addresses ending in an even number only on Tuesdays and Fridays, between 2 AM and 6 AM for automatic, in-ground irrigation systems OR between 5 PM and 9 PM for manual sprinklers or hose fed irrigation. Watering in accordance with this two-day schedule is consistent with current best practice recommendations, and will be considered fully compliant, even though strict interpretation of Article V calls for alternate-day watering.
- Water may not be used to wash non-public paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking areas and patios.
- With the exception of emergency vehicles, only commercial car washes can clean automobiles, trucks or trailers.
- Water cannot be served in restaurants unless the patron requests it.
- The use of flow-through (non-recycled) fountains, artificial waterfalls and reflecting pools is not allowed.
- Water cannot be used for flushing sewers or hydrants except for emergencies.
- All water leaks must be repaired within 48 hours.
- No bulk water supply from any source within the county may be exported outside the county.
- The Commissioner of Health will be accepting applications for variances for lawns or plantings that have been installed between the dates of June 21, 2016 and July 21, 2016. No new lawns or plantings should be installed after this date. Applications for a variance are available online.
For the most up-to-date information visit RCDOH Drought Information web page. This web page also provides many helpful links on saving water and how to best preserve your landscaping when faced with dry conditions and limits on water use. There is also a “Drought” category added on the Rockland County Department of Health Complaint Form to notify the Health Department if you see water leaks, or if you see water being used outside the allowable schedule.