Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As you may know, Western Massachusetts has experienced below-normal precipitation this year; as a result, water levels in town reservoirs are the lowest they have been in recent history. The situation prompted the state to issue a drought watch this month, and the Town of Amherst has now imposed mandatory water conservation measures for the town, including our campuses. The College has to do its part to conserve water and prevent what could become a bigger problem. This requires your help. 

The dry conditions are serious, but they are not unique. Other campuses and communities in Massachusetts and beyond are responding to drought conditions, but the situation differs by municipality. The Town of Amherst informed us at the end of the first week in August that our campuses—UMass, Hampshire and Amherst—should plan to intensify conservation efforts.  Amherst College has had a range of water conservation strategies in place for many years, including plans for drought contingencies.

With minimal effort and simple measures, each of us can help save gallons of water a day. Here are a few steps that we each must take starting immediately:

  • Limit showers to once a day, for three to five minutes.
  • Keep the frequency of clothes-washing to a bare minimum. Use the cold-water and single-rinse settings.
  • Turn off the faucet while washing our hands and brushing teeth.
  • Turn off water in restrooms, labs, and other areas when we are not using them.
  • Wash all dishes in sinks full of water, rather than soaping and rinsing items one by one. When using a dishwasher, run a full load.
  • Report water leaks, running toilets, broken plumbing fixtures, broken irrigation spray heads, and other water waste immediately to the Service Center at 413-542-2254 or servicectr@amherst.edu.

The College is doing its part to conserve as well. Some of the measures include:

  • Limiting the irrigation of grass and athletic fields.
  • Preparing to use compostable dishware in Valentine Dining Hall to reduce dishwashing.
  • Restricting student activities involving large amounts of water.
  • Prohibiting the washing of College-owned vehicles.
  • Delaying grass planting on the Greenway.
  • Adjusting dust-control strategies on campus construction sites.

In addition, the Facilities Department continues to assess and implement new water conservation practices. The measures we are taking are guided by our concern for the health and safety of the community.

For more information, read about state drought levels and the Town of Amherst’s response to the situation. Visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s drought management page and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s water conservation page for other tips and details. We will update our own Amherst Conserves website with more information in the coming weeks as well.

Thank you in advance for your efforts. If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to amherstconserves@amherst.edu. We have asked the Town to keep us closely informed of the situation and of the impact of our conservation measures. In turn, we will also keep you up to date. 

Sincerely,

Biddy


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Learn more about Amherst's conservation efforts