Connecticut may not be facing the same type of conditions as California, but the lack of water is raising concerns among many farmers, including Fred Monahan co-owner of Stone Garden Farm.
Aquarion Water Company recently sent out a press release stating that reservoirs in the southwest region of the state are below half their capacity. And yet demand is running approximately 12.2% percent higher than for the same period last year.
In the release, they recommend customers begin to cut back on the amount of water they use by: repairing leaks in plumbing and fixtures, switching to water-efficient toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Start to allow grass to grow longer; taller grass is healthier and requires less water. Begin using brooms or blowers instead of water to clean decks, driveways and sidewalks. Use a bucket and sponge to wash cars and boats instead of a running hose. Shut off ornamental water displays. Remember to turn off the tap while washing hands, shaving or brushing teeth. Take shorter showers and hand-wash dishes in a basin, not under running water.
“At this point last year we would have been replenishing our reservoirs,“ said Peter Fazekas, the Public Relations Manager at Aquarian Water Company. “But we are still utilizing the reservoirs to meet demand so we haven’t really been adding back. It will take the entire winter season to replenish them completely.”
Fazekas added that the company hopes voluntary reduction from customers will help get reservoirs water levels back to normal by the Spring.
He explained that the winter is a period the company can afford to use as a replenishing period because the demand for water decreases during colder months as there isn’t as much of a need for outdoor maintenance.
Monahan said it has been a tough year for growers and the drought is affecting their crops “big time.”
“The rain we’re getting now doesn’t help, it’s too little too late,” said Monahan. “Anything we still have to harvest is still growing, but our hay crops have been awful. We had no pasture so we had to feed our beef cows all summer. We typically don’t, we usually rely on our pastures.”
He said this is the dryest year he can remember. As a result, his farm has become more reliant on using “cover crops.”
“It’s a winter rye or wheat grass that we grow to protect our crops and enrich the soil and,” said Monahan. “The fields that did have the cover crops on it did okay because they have more organic matter added to them.”
He added that the experience this year with so little rain has affected his perspective on farming.
“We definitely took the rain for granted,” said Monahan. “They say eventually we’re going to be having water wars, I can see that happening. If anyone wants to farm in the future you’ll have to find a more efficient way to irrigate.”
Fazekas added that water is a finite resource and people should be more conscious of how they use it.