Editorial: Running dry

Despite a good soaking on Sunday into Monday, the National Weather Service says severe drought conditions affect southern Connecticut.

Late last week, South Norwalk Electric and Water issued a drought advisory, saying its reservoirs are at 45% of capacity. It is seeking to cut water usage by 10%, asking customers to cut back on watering lawns and to wash cars with a bucket of soapy water, using a hose only for rinsing, as well as taking some other measures. (See our story on page 6A.)

Most homes in Wilton have wells, but these can be affected by the conditions that have seen a rain deficit of up to three inches just for August. This month the rainfall deficit measures one-half to one inch. But it is more than that. Weather patterns resulted in a drier than average spring and summer. And the forecast is not optimistic. The outlook through next Thursday is for warmer than normal temperatures and over the next few days precipitation will be below normal.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s groundwater-level network shows numerous wells in the region are running below normal. While it may take weeks for ground water tables to respond to drier conditions, it also takes weeks for for them to respond to rainfall, so a storm here and there is not going to do much good. A look at the Norwalk River’s flow rate, as measured by the USGS, shows it running well below normal. On Tuesday the flow rate was about five cubic feet per second. The 54-year median for this date is eight cubic feet per second.

Water is a precious commodity. We want it to be clean and plentiful. Wells that are struggling will recharge more slowly. You can’t take a shower and run the dishwasher at the same time. Wells could run dry altogether, and then your choices are bleak. Drill a new well, buy lots of bottled water, bring in a truckload of swimming pool water.

If your faucet is flowing freely, count your blessings. So even if you aren’t on “city” water, don’t waste it. Employ the the conservation measures recommended by the South Norwalk Electric and Water.

Water to drink is more important than a green lawn or a clean car.