WEST NEWBURY — Water Superintendent Mike Gootee said yesterday that a voluntary water ban instituted in June is still in effect. Well levels remain low due to a lack of precipitation and lawn irrigation. Gootee said the Water Department is having trouble maintaining water tank levels for fire protection.

"Residents are using it faster than we can produce it," the press release stated. Gootee called the decision to restrict outdoor watering "precautionary at this point" but urged consumers, particularly those with lawn irrigation systems, to conserve.

A Water Department notice states, "Irrigation systems are turning on around 3 a.m. and running throughout the day. Irrigating lawns in the heat of the day only wastes water and causes the grass to burn out faster. Water that is not be recharged back into the ground is also lost due to evaporation. Irrigating lawns stresses the small water system and increases your water bill by 30 to 50 percent."

The superintendent suggests that automatic irrigation system timers be reset to adhere to the designated watering times. Residents are asked to only water between the hours of 6 to 8 a.m. or 6 to 8 p.m. If levels continue to fall, the Water Department will be forced to implement a more stringent water ban. Anyone irrigating from a private well, should place a sign on their lawn that says "Private Well Water."

Contractors or consumers with irrigation systems connected to the municipal water system are required to have a rain sensor installed so the system will not turn on during rainy periods.

"If you do not have an irrigation system but are thinking of installing one or if you are a contractor that installs irrigation systems, they cannot be connected to the municipal water system. This bylaw went into effect on Aug. 29, 2003. Any new systems would need to be connected to a private well and have no cross connections to the municipal water system," the notice states.

For information on requirements to install a private irrigation system, contact the West Newbury Board of Health office at 978-363-1100, ext. 118 or 119. All other questions about the voluntary water ban should be directed to the Water Department at 978-363-1100 ext. 127.

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