The U.S. Drought Monitor released reports last Thursday of extreme drought affecting an area that stretches from Maine to Massachusetts, including the Town of Andover. Phillips Academy is among the largest water consumers in the town.
Communities in and around Andover have already experienced ecological and economic effects of drought. According to the community newspaper “Wicked Local Ipswich”, towns such as Ipswich, Mass. have started to face low water reserve levels. Massachusetts’s ecology has also been impacted by the drought, as dry wetlands reduce food and drinking water sources for local wildlife.
In compliance with water drought regulations, Andover regularly monitors lawn irrigation systems that use the public water supply, such as the Elson Courtyard, Abbot Circle, and Shuman Admissions systems. In addition to limiting irrigation, Andover is also installing and renovating water conserving appliances on campus. The Sykes Wellness Center was also built to be 36 percent more water efficient than standard buildings.
“We have some other measures on campus that year round help with water conservation… [For instance we] have been installing low-flow shower head fixtures into new dormitories, which save up to 60 percent of the water used with a typical shower head,” said Allison Guerette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator.
Day student Georgia Ezell ’19, whose mother is a landscape designer, has found the drought negatively impacts her mother’s business.
“She has all of these installations going in especially in the summer time with plants and everything, and when there are town-wide strongly encouraged water bands, it’s really difficult, like a lot of clients would back out of jobs… And also we have to be conscious about conserving water and doing normal everyday stuff besides watering plants and lawns, like showering and stuff like that,” said Ezell.
She continued, “I think [it is important to conserve water] for sure, I think we definitely should have the water ban be mandatory.”
Hannah Garth ’18, who lives in Andover, says her parents are worried about the drought’s effect to their garden and lawn.
“My mom’s really into gardening, and she’s had to plan a lot about how the drought has affected the growth of her plants and vegetables, because we have a pretty extensive garden. My dad’s kind of worried about the grass. My brother can’t mow it because it’s all brown,” said Garth.
Andover uses around 12 to 14 million gallons per day during the summer, and 6 million gallons in the winter, according to “The Andover Townsman.” Last July, the Town of Andover began Phase 2 of the Drought Management plan, which requires all major water users, such as Andover, to implement conservation measures.
“Because [Andover] is one of the largest water users in town, we have some campus water conservation measures that will help us reduce water, and benefit the local water supply.” said Guerette.
Guerette has also began reaching out to community members to introduce water conservation and sustainability measures. These include taking shorter showers, running full loads in the laundry machine, and turning off the tap when brushing teeth.
The drought in Massachusetts is part of a larger national drought that began last summer. Essex County has since faced some of the most severe drought conditions in Massachusetts, with levels reaching D3-D4 (extreme to exceptional drought), since August.
Guerette believes it is just as important for students to be conscious of saving water at Andover as they are outside of campus. She hopes that more students will engage in the conservation of
“We’re just starting to really engage in sustainability here, and we would love to hear the ideas that students have about conserving water or natural resources on campus, so we are really open in hearing what students have to say,” said Guerette.