Department of Public Works Director Richard Carnevale said, "All these combine to be an enormous stress on the water system and impact our ability to get water to all of our customers and have water available for fighting fires."
North Reading has already tightened water restrictions, but officials are also asking for residents' and businesses' cooperation in limiting water use.
There are 13 communities that rely on the Ipswich River for all or part of their water supply and North Reading's water supply wells are within the Ipswich River watershed.
According to the DPW:
"The water supplier in each of these communities is asking water users to take steps to reduce water consumption.
"This request is being issued because flow in the Ipswich River has dropped below the minimum threshold set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Portions of the Ipswich River experience extremely low flows and sometimes dry up completely during summer dry periods. This can result in the death of river-dependent species and other environmental damage.
"This reduction of flow in the river results from a combination of factors, including decreased precipitation, increased evaporation, the increased uptake of water by plants during the growing season, and increased residential and commercial water use during the warm weather months. In spite of the periodic rainfall and even heavy thunderstorms we have received recently, the river flow has dropped significantly over the past few weeks and is no longer adequate to support certain species of fish and other river-dependent life. The flow in the Ipswich River – which is measured just after the river leaves North Reading – had decreased to below 5 cubic feet per second this week.
"Saving water can help minimize or prevent the damage to the environment. The best way to save water is to eliminate unnecessary uses such as lawn watering, leaks, and inefficient fixtures and water use practices in the home.
"Residents and businesses are reminded that the Town of North Reading has adopted new water use restrictions, with five levels (or stages) of restrictions based on the current drought condition, as shown in the table below. Currently, North Reading is at a Stage 0 drought condition, with outdoor watering by water users with odd numbered addresses restricted to odd numbered days, and outdoor watering by water users with even numbered addresses restricted to even numbered days.
"Lawn watering is – by far – the largest summer water demand in North Reading. Lawns can survive dry periods; here are some tips on how to make your lawn more drought-resistant:
1. Do not cut the lawn too short. Short grass has shallow roots, which are more susceptible to droughts, pests and weeds. Set your mower to cut at a minimum height of 3 to 4 inches.
2. Don’t water too often. Frequent, light watering discourages deep rooting. Watering too often – more than once or twice per week – causes shallow root development and actually can weaken your grass.
3. Use drought resistant grasses, such as little bluestem, tall fescue or Canada bluegrass. Seed these grasses into your lawn during spring and fall maintenance.
"Information relating to the current and historical flows in the Ipswich River can be found at the web site of the United States Geological Survey at waterdata.usgs.gov. For additional information on ways to conserve water and the current drought condition, please contact the North Reading Water Department at 978-664-6060 or visit our web site at northreadingma.gov."