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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2016
Contact: Jane Lerner (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, MPH, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

COUNTY DECLARES STAGE II WATER EMERGENCY (DROUGHT ALERT)
WATER SAVING MEASURES REQUIRED


NEW CITY, NY - - County Executive Ed Day and Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announce that a Stage II Water Emergency has been declared in Rockland County, resulting in mandatory limitations on water used by all residents and businesses, beginning today, July 21, 2016. The mandatory water saving measures follow two earlier requests for voluntary conservation. These water saving measures, which primarily affect outdoor water use, apply to all residents and businesses, regardless whether they get their water from a public water supplier such as Suez, Nyack or Suffern, or from their own private well.

"Unfortunately, our weather has remained unusually hot and dry, and our water use has remained relatively high. Rainfall from March through June was 36% below average. We are now forced to put mandatory restrictions into place to reduce water use and preserve water to protect public health and safety," said County Executive Day.

MANDATORY WATER USE RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF ROCKLAND COUNTY

  • Properties with addresses ending in an odd number are instructed to water only on Mondays and Thursdays, and those with addresses ending in an even number only on Tuesdays and Fridays, between 2 AM and 6 AM for automatic, in-ground irrigation systems OR between 5 PM and 9 PM for manual sprinklers or hose fed irrigation. Watering in accordance with this two-day schedule is consistent with current best practice recommendations, and will be considered fully compliant, even though strict interpretation of Article V calls for alternate-day watering.
  • Water may not be used to wash non-public paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking areas and patios.
  • With the exception of emergency vehicles, only commercial car washes can clean automobiles, trucks or trailers.
  • Water cannot be served in restaurants unless the patron requests it.
  • The use of flow-through (non-recycled) fountains, artificial waterfalls and reflecting pools is not allowed.
  • Water cannot be used for flushing sewers or hydrants except for emergencies.
  • All water leaks must be repaired within 48 hours.
  • No bulk water supply from any source within the county may be exported outside the county.

Nursery facilities and golf courses may use a water conservation plan that is compliant with Article V (http://rcklnd.us/mandatoryonserv) of the Rockland County Sanitary Code, instead of the specified two-day watering restrictions. Visit the RCDOH Drought Information web page (http://rcklnd.us/droughtinformation) for more information. In addition, the Commissioner of Health will be accepting applications for variances for lawns or plantings that have been installed between the dates of June 21, 2016 and July 21, 2016. No new lawns or plantings should be installed after this date. Applications for a variance are available online ({http://rcklnd.us/droughtariencepp). Receipts that document a date of purchase between June 21, 2016 and July 21, 2016 must be included with the application. County residents may wish to consult a lawn care professional or other resources regarding the potential for letting their lawn go dormant, thus further reducing water demands.

The Ramapo Valley Well Field produces approximately 20% of Rockland's water supply annually. The drought has taken its toll on the natural flow in the Ramapo River, as well as on the water storage used to artificially increase that flow to support the continued use of this well field during the summer months. If these wells, which currently produce about 10% of our needed supply, must be shut down due to low stream flow, the remaining sources will be more quickly depleted, and may not be adequate to supply our current needs. Dr. Ruppert stresses that, "If these water-saving restrictions are not followed, we may soon be forced into a Stage III water emergency, with more extreme water use restrictions. We must greatly reduce our water use now to ensure that enough water remains available for use in our homes and businesses, as well as for fire protection, through the rest of the summer. The health and safety of county residents must clearly be the highest priority when supplies are limited. Your cooperation with these restrictions is vital to ensure that enough water will be available for the remainder of the summer season."

Continue to use water efficiently indoors as well. For example, use low-flow shower heads and toilets (look for the Water Sense label if purchasing new fixtures), fix any leaks, sweep rather than wash paved surfaces, run only full loads in washing machines and dish washers, don't use toilets to dispose of tissues, and consider switching to high-efficiency appliances when it's time for replacement.

For the most up-to-date information visit RCDOH Drought Information web page ({http://rcklnd.us/droughtinformation/). This web page also provides many helpful links on saving water and how to best preserve your landscaping when faced with dry conditions and limits on water use. There is also a "Drought" category added on the Rockland County Department of Health Complaint Form (http://rcklnd.us/complaintform) to notify the Health Department if you see water leaks, or if you see water being used outside the allowable schedule.