Where's the Water in Vershire?

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Drought Dries up Wells, Sends Residents Seeking Water Sources

Finally, it rains.  But Vershire folks with dry wells are still scrambling to meet their basic drinking, washing and other water needs.  Some are taking showers at neighbors' houses, making expensive and time-consuming trips to the laundromat, buying drinking water at the grocery store and even reviving old outhouses.  Other households have plenty of water and are eager to share it, while we, for instance, have a shallow well that is still flowing, so we're conserving but neither dry nor able to extend beyond our own needs.

There is an overflow pipe that empties into the Ompompanoosuc near the Vershire Town Center, carrying surplus water from Connie and Gary Goodrich's artesian well across the road.  Selectboard member Marc McKee took a sample of this water yesterday and sent it promptly to a nearby lab to be tested.  If the results confirm that the water is potable, the town will create a policy advising on its use and the access through town property.

Streams and rivers are running unusually low

Vershire Town Clerk Gene Craft has fielded questions from residents without water this week.  He heard from one caller that the Governor's office declined to consider it an emergency unless a thousand people were heard from, unlikely in our town of seven hundred plus.  Perhaps towns need to band together to make their unified voice heard.

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In the spirit of collaboration, Vershire Fire Warden and Chief of Vershire Fire & Rescue Steve Ward recently met with the Fire Chief of Corinth to determine available water sources in the case of fire.  Many ponds are extremely low and unable to contribute significantly to fire fighting efforts.  Concerns increase during hunting season with more traffic in the woods and the dangerous possibility of carelessness or accidents.

Steve clarified that the fire department is not putting water in people's wells and that they don't have the equipment needed to convey potable water safely.  To his knowledge, local artesian well drilling companies are booked four to six weeks in advance, attempting to cover southern New England as well, where drought conditions are even worse.

Representative Susan Hatch Davis contacted the Division Director for Drinking Water at the Agency of Natural Resources this week to try to get to the muddy bottom of the issue.  She discovered that a statewide drought task force is meeting bi-weekly and expects to issue a public statement next week from the ANR and Emergency Management/Homeland Security.

In a WCAX story from October 3, Judy Simpson reports, "According to the National Weather Service we would need to get months of above average rainfall and snowfall, to make up for the almost 7 inch rainfall shortage we are currently experiencing."

The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that all of the state of Vermont is at least "abnormally dry" with Vershire falling in an area of "moderate drought, indicated on the map in tan color. The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

From recent inundation of the southeastern U.S. to the "exceptional drought" identified by the U.S. Drought Monitor in the southwest to the water protectors working to preserve drinking water in North Dakota, people everywhere are becoming more aware of our dependence on water, and the ways in which water connects us all. 

Feel free to share your stories of the drought and your ways of coping with it in the comments below.  Visit the Vershire Buzz on Facebook for updates as the situation unfolds.

Our town is full of exciting events and wonderful people with interesting stories. What's yours? Who or what topics would you like to see featured in the Vershire Buzz? This is your voice, so I'd love to hear from you. Email me at dawnhancy@gmail.com or call 802-685-7752.

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