2015-11-05 / News

Dry weather continues to drop water levels

By Margo Sullivan

More dry weather could lead to restrictions on outdoor water use, according to Town Engineer Michael Gray.

“The reservoir is still dropping,” he said.

Gray on Monday informed the Town Council, who were sitting as the board of water and sewer commissioners, that the water levels have now dropped to 39 inches below the spillway. Per the ordinance, if the decline continues to the 42-inch mark, the council will be obligated to issue the water restrictions.

“If it continues to drop, we will have to put out a notice that limits outdoor water use,” he said.

If so, Council President Kristine Trocki said, the notice would probably not affect many residents. Given the timing, most people are not using a lot of water now on their lawns and gardens.

“Unless it’s somebody cleaning their house,” Gray said.

However, he added, the councilors would have some leeway if the weather reports forecast precipitation.

Although two rainstorms have come through Rhode Island recently, most of the precipitation has landed around New Bedford, Mass., he said. Jamestown collected only 1.31 inches in the two storms combined. Over the last two years, according to Gary, it has been “really dry in the fall.”

“You can see the trends,” he said.

Currently, the North Pond reservoir stands at 33 million gallons. That’s lower than the levels between 2008 and 2014, he said, but not so low as the record year, 1993, when “we ran out of water.”

The water department has been transferring some water from South Pond. The pumping was conducted for five days, Gray said.

“And the well is still on,” he said.

On the plus side, the water quality has been excellent as a result of the dry weather.

In other business, Gray reported that he was not ready to discuss an agenda item about potentially using storm water to irrigate fields. Trocki asked if the item was related to the water and sewer department’s innovative use of treated wastewater to irrigate greens at the golf course.

No, he indicated.

“The ballfields?” Trocki guessed.

“Yes,” Gray said.

At that point, Town Administrator Andy Nota announced that he recently met with the state bridge authority, which maintains the state’s four main saltwater bridges, including the two connecting Jamestown. Nota said they had a “great meeting.”

They covered two major projects: one related to electric power on the bridges, and another connected to plans to construct a maintenance garage under the span on the Freebody Street side.

Another topic, however, related to the ballfields at Eldred Avenue, he reported. Some years ago, Nota said, the state Department of Transportation granted Jamestown an easement to install a well to water the ballfields.

But the well, which would be a considerable distance from the ballfields, was never installed. He wanted to propose “relocating the easement to a more appropriate location,” he said. As it turned out, the opportunity came up because the bridge authority is in the process of repairing pumps at the bottom of Tashtassic Road, he said.

“The pumps aren’t working,” Gray said. “They have a project to retrofit that pumping station.”

Although nobody at the meeting could say if the storm water could be directed to irrigate the Eldred Avenue ballfields, Nota said they may consider the option.

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