Portsmouth Water Supply Report
July 1, 2020
MODERATE DROUGHT DECLARED
Due to the dry weather and below normal precipitation in May and most of June, the U.S. Drought Monitor elevated the southern half of the state to “Moderate Drought” conditions as of June 23, 2020. However, on June 30th Portsmouth received three inches of rain, which will help our conditions considerably. It also reduced water demand from a high of 6.15 million gallons delivered on June 21, 2020 to only 3.50 million gallons on June 30th.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is implementing the State Drought Management Plan to coordinate the State Drought Management Team of state, federal, regional and municipal agencies, including the Portsmouth DPW Water Division. Ongoing actions include: assessing reservoir impacts and adjusting operations, working with drinking water systems statewide and ensuring the public is informed of the impacts and conservation measures that should be employed now to avoid serious problems later in the summer. As more households are watering lawns and new flower vegetable gardens, the DPW Water/Stormwater Division encourages residents to “Think Blue” and consider some of these water-saving measures you can practice at home. Click here.
For the full Water Supply Status Report for July 1, 2020, click here.
Portsmouth and Pease International Tradeport
STATE ISSUES MODERATE DROUGHT CONDITION UPDATE -- With the dry weather so far in June and low winter snowpack, the U.S. Drought Monitor this week elevated the southern half of the state from “Abnormally Dry” to “Moderate Drought” conditions, so NH DES is implementing the State Drought Management Plan to coordinate the State Drought Management Team of state, federal, regional and municipal agencies, including the Portsmouth DPW Water Division. Ongoing actions include: assessing reservoir impacts and adjusting operations, working with drinking water systems statewide and ensuring the public is informed of the impacts and conservation measures that should be employed now to avoid serious problems later in the summer. As more households are watering lawns and new flower vegetable gardens, the DPW Water/Stormwater Division encourages residents to “Think Blue” and consider some of these water-saving measures you can practice at home. https://www.cityofportsmouth.com/publicworks/stormwater/what-can-you-do-about-water-conservation-and-stormwater-pollution
For the US Drought Monitor map for NH, click here. https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NH
Water Supply Status Report
June 2, 2020
Current Status of Water Supply
The City’s Regional Water System staff are continuing to operate, monitor and maintain the Portsmouth and Pease Tradeport Water Treatment systems during this Covid-19 virus. Staffing has been adjusted to provide ample system coverage while protecting our water system operators as much as possible. Our source waters are chlorinated for adequate disinfection, monitored continuously for chlorine residuals and sampled throughout the water system to assure proper treatment continues. Currently, water supply is adequately meeting demand and there are no issues with water quality.
Water supplied to Pease Tradeport water system customers comes primarily from the groundwater wells located on the Tradeport (Harrison Well and Smith Well). Portsmouth water system (EPA PWSID# 1951010) supplies water to the Pease Tradeport water system as needed.
Precipitation and Weather
May was a very dry month, with only 1.67 inches of precipitation falling on the Seacoast region during this period, which was two inches below normal. Fortunately, ample precipitation occurred prior to May to recharge the water supply sources. The wet months of October and December 2019 have helped offset the dry months of January, February and March 2020.
Currently, water supply conditions for the Portsmouth water system are in good condition. However, if dry weather continues, our water supply sources may become stressed and water supply demands harder to meet. The following graphic shows the last 12 months of precipitation received each month.
Reservoir Levels and Flow
The current river flow, according to the gauged Oyster River, which we use to assess the flow into the Bellamy Reservoir, has just recently trended below normal for this time of year per the following USGS graphic (black line shows registered flow for period shown):
Groundwater Levels and Status
Groundwater levels in most of our water sources are currently trending a little bit above. This can be attributed to the way we received precipitation, however, it can also be attributed to our water operations staff’s optimization of the use of surface water versus groundwater. Cutting back our groundwater withdrawals when we have ample surface water has allowed well levels to be maintained in a sustainable manner and more water availability for the system to meet peak demand. Each well has a continuous water level meter and the water pumped is also metered.
This allows system operators the capability of assessing groundwater level trends and we are able to determine overall source of supply capability.
Water supplied to the Portsmouth and Pease drinking water systems has averaged about 10 percent less than what was supplied in 2019. However, with the hot and dry weather last week, the system averaged about 16 percent more than during the same week in 2019. System operators will continue to monitor system demands, the weather and water supply capabilities and will provide updates as necessary.
Water Efficiency Rebates
The City also continues to offer water efficiency rebates of $100 per low flow toilet and $150 for the purchase of a high efficiency washing machine. These are available to all residential customers, including multi-family customers. To date, nearly 1,000 rebates have been issued. Additional information on this program can be obtained from the City’s water billing department or from the City’s website: www.cityofportsmouth.com/publicworks/water-efficiency-rebate-program
Water Quality Information
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.
Annual Water Quality Reports for both water systems detail these efforts and are mailed to each water system customer annually. The reports summarizing water quality from 2019 are soon to be mailed out to all customers in the water systems. They will also be posted, together with past years reports on the City’s website at: www.cityofportsmouth.com/publicworks/water/drinking-water-quality
Our efforts to track and treat the PFAS contamination at the Pease International Tradeport continue. PFAS stands for a broad group of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, produced and found in many commercial products and also used in firefighting foam. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are currently unregulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, the EPA Health Advisory concentration standard is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). In response to the discovery of PFOS in the Haven Well in May 2014 at levels that exceeded the EPA Provisional Health Advisory (200 ppt at that time), the Haven Well was removed from service. This well has remained disconnected from the Pease Tradeport water system since this finding. The source of the PFAS at the Tradeport was aqueous film-forming foam that had been used to extinguish fires and in training exercises at the former Air Force Base. Since 2014, the Harrison Well and Smith Well on the Pease Tradeport water system, and Portsmouth Well #1 and Collins Well in the Portsmouth water system, have been routinely monitored for PFAS by the Air Force.
Activated carbon filters continue to treat the Harrison and Smith wells at Pease while an entirely new treatment facility is constructed to treat those two wells together with the reactivation of the Haven well when the construction is completed in the summer of 2021. PFAS tracking of the other Portsmouth surface and groundwater drinking sources continues on a quarterly basis and all data is posted on the city’s website.
The State of New Hampshire promulgated maximum contaminant level (MCL) regulations for four compounds in 2019 – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA. However, enforcement of these regulations is currently on hold due to a lawsuit filed in late 2019. Despite this, we are continuing to sample quarterly according to these regulations and post that data on the City’s website at: www.cityofportsmouth.com/publicworks/water
Further Updates and Information
This information will be distributed electronically on the City of Portsmouth’s website in the Department of Public Works > Operations > Water section. If anyone needs additional information or has questions contact Al Pratt, Water Supply Operations Manager at 520-0622 or Brian Goetz, Deputy Director of Public Works at 766-1420.