Drought puts Lowville into water watch mode

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - It’s dry out there and more rain like the thunderstorms parts of the north country got Sunday night and Monday morning will help.

According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, Watertown has seen 2 inches of rain since May 1. The normal amount is 4.3 inches.

Massena is actually seeing its second driest May and June since 1991. The center says 1.18 inches of rain has fallen. Usually, the area gets 4.74 inches.

Lowville normally sees 5 inches of rain between May 1 and now, but it has seen just 2.25 inches of rain.

Because Mother Nature is so stingy with rain, residents in Lowville are told to watch how much water they use.

The village has been on a water watch since Saturday. Officials say that’s to make sure the situation doesn’t get out of hand.

“We are trying to be proactive so that we don’t get in a water conservative mode,” said Paul Denise, superintendent, Lowville Department of Public Works.

Residents are asked to take simple steps, like avoid watering the lawn, washing cars, and filling up pools. It’s all because levels in Lowville’s water tank are below average.

In the Lowville water tank, the current level is right around 15 feet, 5 inches. Denise says that’s up from around 12 feet on Friday.

“It’s not concerning at this point. If it gets any lower, it would be concerning,” he said.

The ideal mark is 20 feet. So why the low levels? Jessica Spaccio, a scientist, says Lowville, like many places, hasn’t received enough rain.

“Since January, the Lowville station’s about 5 inches below normal,” said Spaccio, climatologist, Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Village Mayor Joseph Beagle says the low water levels are a product of a full year.

“Last year, we had a real dry summer. This winter was a fairly light winter,” he said.

“Lowville was about 10 inches below normal for snowfall this year,” said Spaccio.

Denise says they are working with local manufacturers, like Kraft Heinz, to limit their water use while making its products. Kraft Heinz uses about a million gallons of water a day, but has agreed to be mindful of how much water it uses.

The levels in the tank have increased over the weekend because Denise says they have been producing more water from its filtration system in the town of Watson.

So for Lowville to have a water watch, levels in the tank need to be between 12 and 14 feet. Right now they are a little better than that - but the water watch continues because village officials want to see conditions improve just a little bit more - so the water watch isn’t such a worry.

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