BROWNSBURG — It might be August, but Hendricks County residents can party like it’s the Fourth of July again now that the Hendricks County Commissioners and Hendricks County Fire Chiefs Association have lifted a burn ban that was imposed in late June.
Hendricks County Emergency Management Director David Warren said the recent rains, while scattered, were enough to lift the ban.
“We were looking for foliage to turn green, temperatures to drop, and the humidity to drop,” he said. “We’re not at 100 degrees or 15 to 20 percent humidity anymore. The temperatures are in the low 80s to low 90s and even down into the 70s. Hendricks County has had six inches of rain since the beginning of the month. To contrast, we had 0.32 inches in May, June, and July.
“We also are partners with the Hendricks County Fire Chiefs Association and what they were doing is looking at their number of calls and they were very instrumental in giving their blessing in saying that we were past the threshold.”
Warren warned, however, that the bans could be reinstated if the weather patterns change.
“We could reinstate it if we get no rain,” he said. “If in, say September, we have the same conditions we had in May, June, and July and things get dry again.”
The bans that have been lifted are the countywide bans. Residents will still need to abide by any bans their municipalities have set.
Stephanie Martindale with the Brownsburg Fire Territory said, “Each town may have something where you need a burn permit or a certain sized fire pit. When we first got the rain that first couple of days, everyone was excited. Now the ground is getting a little better. The stuff that’s dead is not going to come back this year, but it is getting wetter.”
But it’s not yet wet enough for many towns who had set mandatory watering bans to lift those. Back in July, Brownsburg, Avon, and Pittsboro each instituted versions of watering bans — in Avon’s case, it was a “water shortage warning” — with varying penalties for those who do not comply.
Martindale said there is hope that the watering bans might be lifted within the next couple of weeks.
Officials with the Brownsburg Water Department have not targeted a specific amount of rainfall, but plan to leave the water restrictions in place long enough for the town’s aquifer to recharge. Officials here say they will follow the lead of Citizens Water in Indianapolis.
The United States Department of Agriculture recently declared all 92 Indiana counties as primary or contiguous natural disaster areas due to the summer’s weather conditions. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security both declared a water shortage warning for all Indiana counties in July with a goal of achieving a 10 to 15 percent reduction in water usage.
Plainfield, on the other hand, has not instituted any form of watering ban, but the town is now asking customers to adopt water conservation measures.
“We’ve been monitoring our wells, and we are not in a water shortage situation,” Jason Castetter, superintendent of public works for the town, said. “However, there is no question that our system is under stress. July was the hottest month on record and our precipitation continues to be below average as it has all summer. Demand is high. To keep from getting into a problem stage, we should consider what we can do to reduce water usage. It will also help us stay in compliance with the state warning.”
Plainfield Town Council president Robin Brandgard added, “The aquifers from which we draw our water still have good capacity, but they are in drawdown phase. We know that they eventually will need to be recharged, but who knows when that will happen? At the moment, our water supply is still far from a critical state, so we are seeking cooperation on a voluntary basis.”