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Landscapers Worry About Keeping Green During Water Shortage In Darien

The forum, which was attended by over 100 people, was held to update citizens on the irrigation ban that is in effect in the towns of Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford.
The forum, which was attended by over 100 people, was held to update citizens on the irrigation ban that is in effect in the towns of Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Stamford Mayor David Martins speaks about the current irrigation ban that is in effect in Southwest Fairfield County.
Stamford Mayor David Martins speaks about the current irrigation ban that is in effect in Southwest Fairfield County. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Jeff Ulrich, Aquarion Water Company's Director of Supply Operations, said that “we need an inch of rainfall a week just to stay on average...and there is no rainfall in the forecast.”
Jeff Ulrich, Aquarion Water Company's Director of Supply Operations, said that “we need an inch of rainfall a week just to stay on average...and there is no rainfall in the forecast.” Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

STAMFORD, Conn. — Jay Nathans, a landscape designer with Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses in Greenwich, is worried that the irrigation ban in effect in the area will hurt his business in spring.

“This concerns everyone within our field. Landscape design build is a huge part of our business. If we do a landscape design and people want to implement it, and if we have a [watering] ban, they won’t do it,” Nathans said at a drought forum Monday at UConn-Stamford.

If people would just shut off their lawn sprinklers and instead use drip irrigation — which is for plants — this would save a lot of water, he said.

The forum, attended by over 100 people, was provide an update on the irrigation ban that remains in effect in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford due to the ongoing drought.

The area has received 14 inches less rain than normal in the past 12 months.

“We need an inch of rainfall a week just to stay on average ... and there is no rainfall in the forecast,” Jeff Ulrich, director of supply operations at Aquarion Water Co., said at the forum.

The situation is extreme, he said. “This is scary to us. We are well below drought levels from what we have seen in the last 100 years," he said.

Related story: State Issues Water Supply Emergency Order For Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford.

Past experience shows that voluntary water bans do not work — only mandatory bans have proven successful, Ulrich said.

Reservoir levels are low. As of Feb. 17, the Greenwich system was 68 percent full, while the Stamford system measured 61 percent full. These systems are typically 88 percent full this time of year.

Stamford Mayor David Martin said the state has to step in and develop a common set of regulations for water use during a drought. “We have to work collectively together in regulating irrigation and landscaping policies across the towns.

“The state needs to form a task force for irrigation and landscaping," Martin said.

Michael Sullivan, golf course superintendent for the city golf courses in Stamford, said golf courses have been proactive in response to the water ban.

“I cut my water usage last August and September when they first came out with the robocalls [which asked people to reduce their water usage] by 75 to 80 percent. We stopped all watering on the fairways."

The public needs to be diligent in their water use, Sullivan said. “You see systems running in the rain. This is a serious concern. All citizens should be involved.”

Oscar Melchor, a contractor at Turning Green Plant & Lawn Health Care in Norwalk, said the forum was educational.

"I don't think it will affect my business. Also, what we are doing is good for the environment."

Martin hopes contractors will work together to make their clients adhere to any watering bans.

"I don't pretend that I know exactly how to enforce regulations," he said. "We are depending upon your voluntary efforts to educate your customers."

If the ban is lifted, a twice-weekly watering schedule will go into effect for Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford:

  • Even addresses: Sundays and Wednesdays
  • Odd addresses: Saturdays and Tuesdays

This would apply to automatic and buried irrigation systems as well as hose sprinklers. It would not apply to handheld watering, drip irrigation, and soaker hoses.

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