Water emergency in Suffolk County

July 7, 2010 2:40:13 PM PDT
A warning for people on long island because of all this heat -- people are being warned to cut down with their water use in Suffolk County.

"We've broken every record in the past week that the water district has ever held," Gary Pendzick said.

That is not a point of pride for Pendzick, who runs the riverhead water district.

Over the past few days, has been watching the town's water resources dwindle to levels he says are dangerously low.

"We haven't had any rain in about five weeks. It's hot and it's dry, more so than we've seen in some years," he said.

As best as town leaders can figure, few people watered their lawns over the Fourth of July holiday, but Monday night practically everyone turned on their sprinklers at once.

By Tuesday morning, two of the town's five water towers were bone dry. Town supervisor Sean Walter declared a water emergency, banning all irrigation, even overnight.

"We can supply a hundred percent of the needs of the residents, the problem is you need to supply a hundred 25 percent to put water in the tanks," Walter said.

It was only a couple of months ago that record rainfall caused catastrophic flooding here. Now, the town's investing millions in six new pumping stations and two new wells to increase capacity.

"We spent so much money and we're still behind the eight ball," Walter said.

With the water towers empty, town leaders say they have no reserves for emergencies, like a major fire. Hence, the ban on irrigation.

No one wants a brown lawn and just steps from town hall, the grass is still greener at Kathy Commins' house.

"I have a graduation party Saturday (and) have quite a few people coming out. It's starting to get a little brown so I wanna get it watered," she said.