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Water shortage threat intensifies

Water shortage threat intensifies

We’ve reached the middle of March, which means time is running out for significant late-season rain to bail us out from what is measuring up to become the second consecutive year of a record-setting drought.

As of March 15, rainfall in Inverness since July 1 has amounted to only 14.6 inches, which is just 47% of the norm of 31.1 inches for this point in the rainfall year.

We are holding our own at this moment, but streamflows will continue to decline until a lot of rain comes along to recharge our Inverness Ridge watershed. What’s more, the normal pattern is for customer demand to start surging around this time of year as seasonal gardens are planted, landscaping dries out, and weekender and tourism visitation increases.

The simple equation under normal circumstances is that the amount of available water decreases as the demand for water increases. Going forward during this extraordinarily dry year, we have no way to increase the supply, so the only way we’re going to cope will be to keep reducing demand so that we always maintain a margin for firefighting and public health. Additionally, we must not draft so much water out of the watershed that the streambeds dry up.

Now is the time to develop the habit of using less water, just in case we have to ration everyone’s allotment later in the year. We also urge you to rethink any plans you may have for planting a garden this year. When crunch time comes, the first step will be to restrict outdoor water usage – even, if necessary, going so far as to impose a total ban on use of water outdoors.

We very much appreciate the total cooperation we’ve received from the community so far, but it’s only fair to warn everyone that the outlook is likely get worse as warmer weather arrives. Please be prepared!