May 19, 2021
The City of Portsmouth Department of Public Works Water Division released the latest Water Supply Status Report on May 10, providing an assessment of the water supply quantity and quality available through the Portsmouth Water System. Water use generally increases during the summer months as homeowners start outdoor projects and irrigation. At the same time, the water recharge from rainfall decreases in the summer. Since May 2020, precipitation on the Seacoast was 12 inches, or 28 percent below normal. Portsmouth has briefly emerged from a period of “Moderate Drought” to now be listed as “Abnormally Dry.”
Water use restrictions are currently not in effect for Portsmouth Water customers. However, even though the Seacoast had 3.3” of rain, so far, in April and May, the average is still well below normal and if dry conditions persist, the City may ask for voluntary water restrictions. If conditions deteriorate, mandatory restrictions on non-essential water use such as odd/even or two-days/week watering schedules may be required. Water operations staff continue to assess the supply conditions and will provide updates as needed.
The Water Division has encouraged customers to be efficient with water use while at the same time identifying and correcting water system leaks that were causing millions of gallons of water in the system to be lost annually. The amount of water supplied to the system has consistently decreased the last five years while the amount of consumption has remained the same.
Additionally, through integrated management of its surface water source, Portsmouth now withdraws approximately 30 percent less water from groundwater sources than it did ten to fifteen years ago. This ability to rely more on surface water reserves, such as the Bellamy Reservoir, helps preserve groundwater, which is not an option for most of the other surrounding Seacoast communities who must rely on groundwater alone.
“We continue to ask our water customers to please use water wisely, minimize waste, and incorporate water efficient fixtures and appliances whenever possible,” said Brian Goetz, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works. “The City of Portsmouth’s Water/Stormwater Division encourages residents to ‘Think Blue’ and consider some of the water-saving measures they can practice at home, including replacing inefficient toilets and washing machines, listed on the website.”
In addition to reporting on the water supply, the Water Supply Status Report provides the latest information on water quality issues. The Portsmouth Water Division routinely monitors water quality parameters and performs water quality sampling and analysis as directed by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Water sources are monitored for radioactive, biological, inorganic, volatile organic, or synthetic organic contaminants. Critical water treatment parameters for turbidity, pH, chlorine, orthophosphate and fluoride are continually monitored and tracked by our system operators. The City also continues to sample PFAS quarterly, to assure compliance with New Hampshire’s new regulatory standards for four regulated PFAS compounds – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA and meets with the Safe Water Advisory Group to collect advisory input from local stakeholders, scientists and activists focused on the PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) contamination that has impacted the City.