River Flow Was Near Historic Low Until Massive Rain Event

It's important to remember that one day of rain is not always enough to make up for a month of dry weather.

Neponset River drought Baker Dam 9-2015

View of Neponset River, just above Baker Dam in Milton. Photo by Terry Dolan.

Yesterday the watershed received about 2 inches of rain – after only about 0.43 inches had fallen over the first 29 days of September – and this has added much needed water to our area.

Last week, the flow in the Neponset River in Norwood measured as low as 1.4 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Average flow at this spot for this time of year is 14 cfs based on 75 years of data, meaning flow was significantly below normal.  The only periods of time on record with lower recorded daily flow were during the drought of August 2002, and during October 1963.

With yesterday’s rain, the peak flow measured about 162 cfs at 11:45 am on September 30th.  Since the rain stopped, flow has dropped to about 29 cfs, as water makes its way through the river to the ocean.

Flow in the Neponset River is measured by the USGS using stream gauges.  These gauges tell us how much water there is in the river.  The gauges are located in Norwood, Canton (East Branch and Fowl Meadow),  and Milton (Lower Mills). You can see data from the USGS here, and check out our new streamflow page.

While we were not experiencing a moderate or severe drought last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions were abnormally dry prior to this week’s rain, which meant less water for the river. There are a number of factors that impact flow in the river beyond precipitation, including water withdrawals from wells in the watershed.  Although the rain we got this week helped replenish the river and groundwater supplies it is important to remember that one day of rain is not always enough to make up for a month of dry weather.

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Aerators, which mix air with water to control flow, are found at the end of a faucet.  Upgrading to a water efficient model is easy and inexpensive.

Do your part! Help conserve water at home.

We all need to work together to conserve water, especially during times of low precipitation.  Anything that you can do to conserve will make a difference.  Here are a few tips:

  • Reduce (or eliminate) lawn watering.  And always follow town restrictions, which are put in place for public safety.
  • Fix leaks! Toilet leaks (that “running” noise) can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.
  • Install water efficient faucet aerators.  All faucets are built with aerators.  The typical flow of a faucet is 2.2 gallons per minute.  Why not upgrade to a 1.5 gpm aerator?
  • Install water efficient appliances.  Look for the WaterSense label when purchasing toilets, faucets or showerheads.  WaterSense is to water efficiency what Energy Star is to energy efficiency.
  • Modify your behavior.  Shorter showers, turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth.  You get the idea!

Click here for more information on residential water conservation.

Sarah Bounty, Environmental Engineer, October 1, 2015

 

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