As you have probably noticed, Massachusetts is currently suffering from a drought. Lawns are brown, streams are drying up and water is in short supply. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton warned that drought “can contribute to lasting agricultural, environmental, and economic impacts, and also raise serious public safety concerns”. The North and South Rivers watershed is no exception, and predictions are that there is no relief in sight.

Most South Shore communities have outdoor watering bans or restrictions. With low water reserves comes the possibility that area fire departments won’t have enough water to fight fires, which are at an increased risk.  Less water also means streams dry up which is harmful to fish and wildlife. Pollution becomes more concentrated with low water levels and increases the risk for harmful algae blooms.

Lawns typically consume the largest amount of water on a property. Despite their appearance when moisture is scarce, grasses are surprisingly resilient. Here are a few tips to help you conserve water and preserve your landscape during this hot, dry weather:

  1. Embrace the brown! Your lawn is not dead, only dormant and it is adapting to the environment and doing what it should.
  2. Prioritize areas in your landscape. Restrict watering to the areas that are most important to you.
  3. Use a rain barrel to capture roof runoff to water your lawn or garden.
  4. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios.

Indoor conservation is also important – 65 gallons per day per person or less is the goal.  Here are some indoor water conservation tips:

  1. If its yellow…well you  know the rest! Toilets are the number one water consumer inside our homes. Please check for leaks in your toilet by putting some food coloring in your tank… if you see it in the bowl after 25 minutes you have a leak and will likely need a new flapper.
  2. Check your faucets for low flow aerators. And don’t run the water when brushing teeth or hand washing dishes.
  3. Only wash full loads of dishes and laundry
  4. Take shorter showers (no baths – they use a lot of water!) and capture the water in buckets in the shower as you wait for it to warm up. Use that water for prioritized plantings.

In short, nature knows what to do and your grass will green back up when the time is right. Conserving water both indoors and out now is imperative for the welfare of our towns, rivers and environment.