Amherst residents get creative in face of water ban

  • Jamie Sweeting uses water from his dehumidifier to water his plants Sunday, August 21, at his home at 179 N. Whitney in Amherst. A mandatory water ban, in which watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools is prohibited, went into effect at of 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 19. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker/Gazette Staff

  • Jamie Sweeting uses water from his dehumidifier to water his plants Sunday, August 21, at his home at 179 N. Whitney in Amherst. A mandatory water ban, in which watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools is prohibited, went into effect at of 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 19. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker/Gazette Staff

  • Jamie Sweeting shows how much water evaporated from his pool Sunday at his home at 179 N. Whitney in Amherst. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

  • At a house at 701 E. Pleasant water drips down onto a rose bed Sunday, August 21, in Amherst. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker/Gazette Staff

  • Derek Smith poses for a portrait in his yard at 31 Wildwood Sunday, August 21, in Amherst. A mandatory water ban, in which watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools is prohibited, went into effect at of 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 19 and Derek said the ban hasn't bothered him too much and just lets his lawn go unmowed. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker/Gazette Staff

  • “I haven't mowed my lawn in over a month,” Jamie Sweeting said while mowing Sunday at his home at 179 N. Whitney in Amherst. Amherst’s mandatory water ban, in which watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools is prohibited, went into effect Friday. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

Gazette Staff
Published: 8/21/2016 10:31:09 PM

AMHERST — Some residents are letting their lawns get brown during the town’s mandatory water ban, while others are finding creative alternatives to keep their plants hydrated.

Even before the ban went into effect on Friday — prohibiting people from watering their lawns, filling their pools and washing their cars — some residents were already struggling to cope with the ongoing drought and have sought out ways to recycle water.

Much of Jamie Sweeting’s yard on Whitney Street has turned brown but, determined to at least save his azalea bushes, he reuses the water from his basement dehumidifier.

About a bucketful of water is collected in the machine every night, which he then splashes on the bushes that line the side of his home.

“I figured, waste not, want not. I’ll use this to water the plants,” he said.

Since patches of his lawn died in June, he has forgone his typical evening watering routine.

“It already died, so there is no point in putting water on it,” Sweeting said, looking out from his front porch.

Recent rainstorms have given some of the plants a second chance. “The ferns in front here looked like they had been on fire, but in the last week they have greened up,” Sweeting said.

He also abstains from washing his car and, after the ban went into effect, he stopped refilling his aboveground pool.

Another resident, Derek Smith, lets his lawn on Wildwood Lane take care of itself. He never waters it and since it is mostly covered by the shade of trees lining the street, the grass still manages to stay green.

“I’m not feeling at all impacted by the ban,” he said. “I’m not one of those people who wants their yard to be perfect.”

He has also found alternative ways to cut back on water use, like taking fewer showers and minimizing the time his 9-year-old son can play in the yard with his water gun.

Another resident on East Pleasant Street, who declined to give his name, said that while he did not know about the water ban, he has also found a way to recycle water.

Most plants in his yard are suffering, but his red rose bushes are in full bloom and hydrated thanks in part to the condensation dripping off an air conditioner hanging out of a window in the front of the house.

The ban comes as the town braces for the largest water-usage day of the year, Sept. 3, when students at UMass Amherst arrive on campus.

The town is also finding ways to cut back on water, checking for leaks in pipes at the water treatment and wastewater plants.

Police, fire, inspections services and public works departments will patrol neighborhoods to look for violations and distribute warnings. No fines are in place at this time, interim town manager David Ziomek said.

The ban does make exceptions for farmers, who are still able to water their crops and livestock, and residents who have backyard gardens.

Lisa Spear can be reached at lspear@gazettenet.com.




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