LOWVILLE Lewis County officials are seeking ways to help overcome a dearth of water in the face of a regional drought.
Im looking at this thing as a long-term situation, said Lewis County Emergency Services Director James M. Martin.
In speaking with state Department of Environmental Conservation officials, this summer has been one of the driest in the past century, and the forecast is not providing optimism for an immediate turnaround, Mr. Martin said.
Its not looking good, he said. The rest of the week is looking dry.
Even with extensive rains, it will be difficult to fully replenish the areas water resources, Mr. Martin said.
Youre probably not going to see the water table come back up until at least next spring, he said.
With the heightened risk of wildfires, the governor has enacted a ban on outdoor residential brush burning through Oct. 10.
Mr. Martin urged residents to avoid starting outdoor fires unless absolutely necessary, given the extreme fire hazard. If so, the fires should be small, contained and attended until they are completely extinguished, he said.
A few fire departments late Tuesday were called to fire in a wooded area off McPhilmy Road in the town of Watson that was caused by ashes from a burn pit fire from over the weekend that were rekindled by high winds, Mr. Martin said. The blaze was reported quickly, and firefighters were able to extinguish it before it was able to spread, he said.
The conditions also pose concerns about a lack of drinkable water for residences and farms, particularly those not hooked to municipal systems.
The village in fall 2007, during the countys last major drought, operated an emergency water drawing station at the Lewis County Fairgrounds for area farmers and residents for more than a month. That may be a possibility again this year, if village officials agree to it, but that wont happen until at least after this weeks Lewis County Fair, Mr. Martin said.
He said county officials plan to contact all local municipalities with public water systems to determine if they have excess water they could sell to more rural residents, if needed.
Many area farmers have been hauling water to meet the needs of themselves and their animals, said Michele E. Ledoux, executive director at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.
Residential water systems fed from drying-up wells may suck in sediment, lowering water quality and potentially contributing to disease, said Nichelle L. Billhardt, manager for the Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The local officials, who plan to meet regularly for updates and further discussion of water issues and solutions, suggested that those drawing water put it into some type of container rather than dumping it into a dry well, given that some of that will run off.
They also recommend implementing water-conservation strategies such as watering gardens but not lawns, doing the watering in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation, taking short showers instead of baths, running washers only when they are full, checking water lines and hoses for leaks and limiting the amount of water allowed to run down the drain.