Schenectady County

Heavy sprinkling roils quality of Niskayuna water

Double the normal amount of water is flowing through Niskayuna’s pipes these days, and the town is r

Double the normal amount of water is flowing through Niskayuna’s pipes these days, and the town is reminding residents of long-standing regulations that limit sprinkler use.

The town typically sees increases in water usage during the summer, mainly due to lawn watering, Superintendent of Water and Sewer Richard Pollock said.

But recently the usage has doubled, to 6 million gallons per day.

The issue is not so much water quantity — the town draws its water from wells and need not worry about running a reservoir dry. Rather, the problem is water quality: The higher flows stir up sediment that has settled at the bottom of the water mains, causing complaints of dirty water, Pollock said.

“The fact of the matter is we’re going through a hell of a lot of water,” he said. “When we have high demand for water, water flows faster and stirs up the sediment in the pipes.”

“In an effort to deal with that, and make sure the water looks as appealing as it tastes, we’re trying to remind people that, hey, they’ve got to cut back.”

Many lawns in the region have turned brown as the summer heat has taken hold and the natural watering system — rain — has been turned off.

The town’s sprinkling rules have long been in place, Pollock said. He couldn’t remember a specific example of someone being cited for violating the rules, but he said his crews will remind a resident if they happen upon someone violating them.

Residents pay for the extra water they use. The town finished a water meter project last year, giving better numbers on how much water residents use and are billed for.

The Niskayuna sprinkling regulations call for regular lawn sprinkling and garden watering only between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m. on designated odd/even days, keyed to street numbers. Households with automatically timed sprinkler systems are permitted to use them only from 4 to 6 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on odd/even days. The rules prohibit watering during the hot midday sun, preventing water loss through evaporation and extended watering.

New lawns and new gardens may be watered every day from 7 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. for a period of three weeks from installation. Each household is allowed two three-week periods a year.

Permission should be requested by calling the water department at 377-8411 and leaving a message including name, address and seeding date.

The regulations are officially in effect from May 1 to Nov. 1.

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