Town officials are expected to ease some water-use restrictions
Town Councilors Monday discussed a very limited easing of the summer water-use restrictions in effect annually since 1995. They plan to vote to allow unrestricted boat, house, and car washing for the rest of the month when they meet next Monday, July 17, as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners.
Effective Aug. 1, the usual summer water restrictions will apply, including the limiting of boat, house and car washing to alternate weekdays and banned on weekends and holidays, if the North Pond reservoir water level is less than 18 inches below the spillway.
During the past decade, such outdoor washing was banned during July. The council considered easing the restrictions because of recent heavy rains combined with conservation efforts and some improvements to the municipal water system that have resulted in having more water in the reservoir than usual for this time of year.
The councilors plan to retain the usual total ban on lawn watering already in effect through Oct. 31. They also plan to retain the usual limits on watering vegetables and flowers if the reservoir level is more than 18 inches below the spillway.
The consensus was reached on washing options even though Town Solicitor J. William W. Harsch cautioned the council about possible implications that some people might see in the easing of the water-use restrictions. Council Vice President Julio DiGiando first voiced concern that easing the restrictions might be interpreted as an expansion of use and cause some property developers to argue for extending the municipal water service for higher-density housing than is currently allowed under town water department regulations. Harsch said the partial easing of restrictions needs to be governed by careful wording of a resolution that preserves the rules that curtail water use and hookups to municipal water systems.
The discussion developed as part of a hearing on restrictions as mandatory conservation measures for municipal water customers.
William Munger, owner and operator of Conanicut Marine Services, outlined his use of a water tanker to provide about 20,000 gallons of water for his customers to use to wash their boats. He said that the availability of water this season, and the passing without incident of the island's annual peak water-use over the July 4 weekend, led him to request some relief from the summer water restrictions.
Munger was one of four residents who addressed the council about the matter.
Ray Iannetta referred to summer being the only time that water users
can effectively practice conservation. Heidi Keller Moon, president of Bayview Condominium Association, referred to the CMS water tanker as "an affront to the beauty of Jamestown's waterfront." Craig Amerigian of Narragansett Avenue, favored the restriction easing, but urged that it apply to all other outdoor uses, including lawn watering.
It was noted that the town has experienced water-supply problems in the past, not only because of drought, but also because of the limited ability of the water treatment plant to meet customer demands even when enough water is available.
Council President David Long recounted his longtime conservative approach to water conservation. He said he was not for "turning the tap on and off. That was cavalier for such a precious and essential item as water." He nonetheless noted that the water department has made progress with improvements and conservation, and might try a partial easing of outdoor water-use restrictions.