Ridgewood Water Chief Details Reasons for Stage II Restrictions
Frank Moritz said reserve levels in tanks had reached dangerously low levels, prompting the need to halt irrigation on Mondays and limit watering.
Fighting a small drought, Ridgewood Water Director Frank Moritz told the Ridgewood Village Council that dwindling tank capacity and a fear that fires could not be fought prompted the decision to declare Stage II water restrictions.
"We based our decisions on the levels in the tanks," Moritz said Wednesday night.
When the decision was made Tuesday to begin Stage II restrictions (which bans irrigation on Mondays and requires adherance to an odd-even scheduled for sprinklers), the tanks had dropped to just 55 percent capacity, Moritz said.
"When it gets that low the system has the ability to drop anywhere from 10 to 15 percent in the night," he said. "Should it drop at a level of 55, we could be in serious danger in not being able to fight a fire with a sufficient [level] of water."
As of Wednesday night, the tanks had recovered to about 70 percent capacity, he said. The hope is with Monday's restrictions, the tanks will be back to full capacity in the beginning of next week, he added.
The tanks, which are spread around Wyckoff, Midland Park, Glen Rock and Ridgewood, can store about 12 million gallons of water, though Moritz said not all are in uniform in capacity. As a result, water is shifted from tank to tank to maintain pressure.
The system currently requires interconnections with Hawthorne and United Water to provide additional water (along with wells). Ridgewood pumps as much as 20 million gallons during peak times over the summer, and with such demands the system can't replenish itself without a healthy dose of rain, Moritz said.
With plans to find a new source of water – believed to be a new tower in Wyckoff – Moritz said its his hope officials won't soon encounter a situation where they'd need to outright ban irrigation (Stage IV).
The utility is currently appealing a $38,000 fine for exceeding its water allotment in 2010 and is expected to face another fee for 2011 usage.