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Suffolk asks residents to reduce "non-essential water usage"

Overnight irrigation of residential lawns is putting a strain on pumping equipment, so the Suffolk County Water Authority issued a stage-one alert Monday, asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water usage.

A combination of dry weather - no rain for several days - and the recent hot temperatures have increased water demand, a spokesman for the authority said.

"Pumps are at full capacity, and if something were to happen to those pumps we would not be able to meet demand, especially in an emergency," Paddy South, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Water Authority said.

The stage one alert is a precautionary measure, he said, to ensure that pumps could deliver water to fire departments and hospitals should an emergency arise.

Under stage one restrictions, residents are asked to reduce "non-essential water usage," including lawn irrigation and washing vehicles, the utility said in a news release. The release said residents should reduce usage until "we get rain."

South said that pumps are working particularly hard overnight, which suggests more residents are watering lawns. There is especially high demand in the East End, particularly Southold, where residential development has grown in recent years.

On Long Island, about 1.6 billion gallons are pumped on a peak summer day, Newsday reported Monday, which is about four times the volume typically dispensed on an average winter day.

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