Outdoor water ban now in effect

Water department still seeing drops in reserves

Abington residents are now prohibited from any outdoor watering while the water department continues to investigate why water reserves keep dropping.

“We now have a full water ban,” Abington/Rockland Joint Water Works Superintendent Joe LaPointe said Friday morning. “There’s no outside water use at all.”

Water crews this week have been trying to understand why levels inside the system’s reserve tanks keep dropping. Normally, levels drop during the day while residents are awake and businesses are open, and then the reserves are fully replenished over night.

Over the past few days, however, that “catchup”, as it’s called, hasn’t been happening.

“We’re not gaining anything on storage,” LaPointe said.

The department is trying to understand if the continuined drawdown is due to a leak in the system, or just higher customer demand.

More people are home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more likely to turn on their faucets. In addition, the region is on the verge of reaching drought status, which means more people are watering gardens and lawns to keep them growing. In an average spring, the area would have received an additional four inches of rain.

Complicating matters, one of the system’s three water treatement plants, located on Meyers Avenue, is currently offline for planned refurbishment. It is not scheduled to return to service for a few more weeks. That work makes it difficult for the two other, larger treatment plants to keep up with demand, but doesn’t explain the unusual demand.

LaPointe said the puzzling part is that usage normally cuts down between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., allowing the system’s reserve tanks under the Rockland reservoir and on Lincoln and Chestnut streets to refill.

“But it doesn’t seem to be doing that,” he said, adding that’s why the department is aggressively seeking out a possible underground leak.

LaPointe said the Step 4 water ban will likely be in place throughout the weekend. The ban does not limit water usage for showers, cooking, and other basic neccessities.

“We’re asking people to help as much as they can,” LaPointe said.

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