The Jericho Water District has asked its customers not to...

The Jericho Water District has asked its customers not to water their lawns as it deals with a supply emergency. Credit: Sofia Sawchuk

Residents in the Jericho Water District are being asked to conserve water after the district superintendent on Saturday declared a water emergency due to a lack of rainfall coupled with three wells being out of commission.

A notice posted on the district website says Jericho water users are asked to limit consumption to personal use, which means bathing, cooking, drinking, washing and laundry. They are explicitly asked not to water their lawns and the district said it will notify customers when normal watering can resume.

Jericho Water District Superintendent Peter Logan said the system, which serves 58,000 people over 37 square miles, is stressed because three wells in Brookville cannot be used due to Freon contamination.

The district has a total of 25 wells.

Health effects on humans of Freon compounds in drinking water are unclear, but studies in laboratory animals have shown that exposure to high levels of airborne Freon 22 cause nervous-system and heart problems, according to the state Department of Health.

The district is currently building a packed tower aeration system to treat the contamination, but the process has been slowed due to supply chain issues, Logan said.

“It takes a long time to build these plants,” Logan said Sunday. “I’ve got equipment that was ordered over a year ago that is still not on site.”

A water emergency was declared in 2020 for the same reason, Logan said. He hopes the project, estimated to cost between $8 million and $10 million, could be completed this fall, which could prevent the district from having to declare future emergencies.

The source of the contamination remains under investigation by the district, he said.

Water usage on Long Island typically peaks in summer as residents refill evaporating pools and water lawns and gardens. The region is also experiencing lower than normal rainfall, with 2.81 inches in Islip in June, down from the average of 4 inches for the month, according to the National Weather Service.

Logan hopes the notice will make ratepayers rethink their summertime consumption. While residents there use five million to seven million gallons per day in December and January, that number can spike to 34 million in July, he said.

“It may get them to look and realize how much water they're actually spending and wasting,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the village of Brookville.

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