Despite intermittent rain on the South Shore, Aquarion has issued a voluntary water restriction to its customers in Hingham, Hull, and North Cohasset.
In place since July 6, the restrictions are a result of the water demand, and less so on the water supply, Aquarion officials said.
“It has to do with the hydraulic capacity of our raw water system,” said John Walsh, vice president of Aquarion Operations for Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “The piping that leads to the treatment plant - demand has reached the capacity.”
Walsh said although there is water in the aquifer and in local reservoirs to meet the demand, the pipes aren’t big enough to carry enough water to the treatment plant.
Residents have since been asked to cut down on their water intake, most notably with lawn watering.
Homes with even house numbers should water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on even numbered days, Aquarion officials said. Homes with off numbers should water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on odd numbered days.
Hand-held hoses can be used at any time.
Officials have also suggested residents allow their grass to grow longer; to limit irrigation from falling on paved areas, and to use brooms or blowers; instead of water, to clean decks, driveways, and sidewalks.
The request has only slightly lessened the demand so far, Walsh said.
“It’s only been 48 hours … There’s not a lot that you can glean from that,” Walsh said. “Usage changes from the weekend to weekdays, so we’ll give it a couple more days to see if the voluntary restrictions are having the impact we’d like to see.”
If not, more stringent water restrictions will be put into place.
According to Walsh, the restrictions would be the same as the voluntary watering suggestions, but the company has the option to issue fines for those who disobey the mandate.
Hingham has issued watering restrictions for the past several summers, putting limitations in place in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Fixing the problem would mean replacing existing infrastructure that can’t meet up with the demand, Walsh said.
According to Walsh, Aquarion is currently undergoing an analysis of how to increase the pipe capacity. How much that replacement might cost and when a decision could be made are less clear.
The voluntary watering restrictions also come a day after Hingham filed a lawsuit with Aquarion over a purchase price of the system.
Despite their coincidental timeline, Walsh said the two weren’t at all related.
“This is purely related to high demands because of the high temperatures,” Walsh said. “It’s around this time of year, for the past 2 yrs and from what I know about prior history, early to mid-July is when we see demand spike up.”