Amherst Water Supply Status

NEW - October 7, 2022 Drought update

Following an above average month of rainfall in September, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Bethany A. Card stated on October 7th that the Connecticut River Valley has been upgraded to Level 1 - Mild Drought status. The Town continues to monitor the water supply, and the recent data shows we are capable of meeting current water demand. Therefore, the Town is not issuing water use restrictions at this time. However, the Town always encourages residents to be mindful regarding water use and follow the water conservation tips provided at the bottom of this page. The state declaration can be found here

This webpage presents data on the status of Amherst’s water supply including operating parameters for the wells and reservoirs, water levels at Atkins Reservoir, monthly water use, and precipitation data. Amherst obtains its water from nine sources, including four reservoirs and five groundwater wells. The reservoirs include Atkins Reservoir and the Pelham Reservoir System (Hill, Hawley & Intake Reservoirs). All five of the groundwater wells are located in the Lawrence Swamp Aquifer in the Hop Brook Basin in the Connecticut River Watershed. The table below shows which water sources were used in October 2022, and the approximate percentage of the total water production each is providing.

Water Ban Lifted

october 2022 Operating Parameters

Water Source
Use % of Total Production
Atkins Reservoir
Primary
approximately 30%
Well #3
Primary
approximately 30%
Well #4
Primary
approximately 30%
Well #1
Make-up water
approximately 5%
Well #2
Make-up water
approximately 5%
Well #5
Manual Back-up
0
Pelham Reservoir System
Inactive
0

Atkins Reservoir Levels

The Atkins Reservoir was one of the first surface water supplies developed for the Town in the 1930s. It has a watershed area of 5.7 square miles, a surface area of 51 acres, and a storage capacity of 200 million gallons. The chart below presents water levels at Atkins Reservoir for 2022 compared to the drought year of 2016 and the last four years (2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021) and the 20-yr average. The water level in Atkins Reservoir is managed, and is dependent on the drinking water needs of the Town, therefore, it doesn't monitor drought as well as a natural system. 

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Water Consumption

The chart below presents Amherst’s average daily water use by month. For many communities water consumption is highest during the summer months, however, in Amherst, due to the student population, the months of April, September, and October have historically had the highest water demand. 

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Precipitation

The chart below presents precipitation data for 2022 compared to data from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2016-drought year, and the 10-yr average. Data is presented as the average daily rainfall per month.

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State Drought Management Task Force 

The State Drought Management Task Force (SDMTF) is a group of officials from state and federal agencies and professional organizations that collect and assess data to determine severity of drought conditions in Massachusetts. The status of water supplies across the state can be found at the SDMTF website, click to see statewide drought information.

Water Use Restrictions  & Conservation

Currently there are no water use restrictions in effect in Amherst. Interim mandatory water use restrictions were most recently inacted in 2016 during drought conditions. Although a number of cities and towns in Massachusetts have outdoor water use restrictions in place during summer months, Amherst is not required under their Water Management Act permit to continuously have restrictions in place. It is only under drought conditions, as determined by the MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, that Amherst needs to consider restricting water use.  

Although there is no water use restriction currently in place, the Town encourages all its water customers to be mindful regarding water use, address leaks as soon as possible, think carefully about what you plant, and water plants in the evening to minimize evaporation. Please click on "tips to save water" below to find out what else you can do to help conserve water, or visit the state's Water Conservation webpage here.