September 3, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Earlier this week, the Town of Amherst contacted Amherst and Hampshire Colleges and UMass to advise us of the stresses on their water system. Today, the Town informed the broader community that “ongoing equipment maintenance may place constraints on the Town’s ability to provide treatment to some of its water sources. As a result, the Town may need to ask water users to curtail use during certain high-use days or during emergencies.”

A release from the Town Manager’s office describes the situation:

While the Town has an abundant supply of water, the ability to treat the volume of water needed has been hampered by the need to rehabilitate one of the Town’s wells. The water system can meet the normal demand for water, but there may be times during the month of September or early October – our highest use months – when increased water use could strain the system.

To prepare for this possibility, the Town is primed to request a voluntary reduction of water during these peak-use times. The Town’s institutional partners (Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts) have already stepped up and – stated they are willing to take steps to reduce water usage – mainly through curtailing irrigation – to “shave the peak” during high use days. If needed, the Town will ask the general public to do the same by eliminating certain activities such as watering lawns, washing vehicles, using power washers, filling pools, etc.

Five years ago, the College responded to a similar town-imposed water reduction. Drawing on that experience, we have developed a plan to address water conservation measures the Town may request of us. If needed, we are prepared to take campuswide action and may ask the members of our community to take personal conservation steps. 

Some measures the College may take during high-demand days (i.e., significantly hot ones) will involve limiting irrigation and use of cooling tower water. Personal conservation actions, that will only be requested in the unlikely event that the Town declares a water emergency,  may include common sense measures such as:

  • Limiting number and duration of showers;

  • Keeping the frequency of clothes-washing to a bare minimum and using single-rinse settings; 

  • Limiting toilet flushes, when possible; and

  • Reporting water leaks, running toilets, broken plumbing fixtures and other water waste immediately to the Service Center at 413-542-2254 or

If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to We are in close communication with the Town. They will keep us apprised of the situation and, in turn, we will keep you up to date on developments through, depending on severity, the Daily Mammoth, campus-wide emails and, if needed, via the AC Alert system.

Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation.


Jim Brassord
Chief of Campus Operations