OLD LYME — Pre-season for fall sports begins next week, but this year practices will take place on fields irrigated with water almost entirely from Tooker Ice Pond, a beaver pond which is also used as a backup water supply by the volunteer fire department.
“We have a new irrigation system this summer that allows the fields to be watered only with water from the pond,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of schools for Lyme and Old Lyme. “This has allowed us not to use any potable water to support our fields, and they look great.”
Previously Lyme Old Lyme Schools used water from the more than a dozen wells located on the school grounds to irrigate the fields. But these wells can no longer produce the amount of water necessary to irrigate the fields, said Neviaser. The hope, he said, is to conserve potable water for drinking.
“They met with me this winter and asked if they could use the pond ,” said Chris Kerr, selectman and volunteer fire fighter in Old Lyme who owns half of Tooker Ice Pond. “They didn’t want to drain their water system or have to drill new wells. It is the cheapest way out essentially.”
Kerr and the school system have set up a monitoring method that will indicate if the water is too low and must be conserved for fighting fires.
“If it drops below that, I am supposed to call them and hopefully they will shut off their pumps,” Kerr said. “The trouble is they negotiated taking water in the most vulnerable time of the year, summer.”
Luckily, for this first year, the water has yet to dip below the level required for irrigation use.