Since July, the Town of Amherst has been experiencing a severe drought. Lack of rainfall is the cause of this drought, with average rainfall at one third of its normal amount. The Town of Amherst issued a series of water restrictions that prohibit washing cars, watering lawns, and washing sidewalks. Nearly every area of Massachusetts has been on a drought watch, advisory, or warning according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
The drought may not appear to be a pressing issue for many Hampshire students, but it has been on the minds of many faculty and staff members, as well as Amherst residents. To prepare for the beginning of this fall semester, faculty and staff designed a campaign encouraging water conservation among Hampshire students. According to Carl Weber, the Interim Director of Facilities and Grounds, Facilities and Grounds was able to reduce their water usage significantly. He stated that most of Hampshire College’s water usage is in the dorms, mods, and the dining commons. Because of this, students have been encouraged to take shorter showers, only do their laundry when they had full loads, and not to leave water running. Overall, these efforts have been successful.
The Hampshire Farm showed resilience during this drought. The farm uses two main water sources: pond water and water from the Town of Amherst. There was an atmosphere of uncertainty at the Hampshire CSA farm during the summer and into the fall. Nancy Hanson, the Community Supported Agriculture Manager at Hampshire is acutely aware of how the CSA farm was affected by the drought. She said, “The farm remarkably did well. The tomatoes did well. Carrots were smaller than we would expect. We had some rain in September. It was stressful to figure out what to water when.”
Hampshire College’s response to the drought has been a test of anxiety and sighs of relief. This drought put a significant onus on the Hampshire community to conserve water, and though this issue has minimally affected the daily lives of students, the efforts to conserve water have been effective.