Doubts of Drought: Clarity from The Office of Environmental Sustainability

By: Shannon Francolini, News & Managing Editor

Water scarcity and rumors of drought have been threatening the state of New Hampshire for a remarkably long time. Shortage of snowfall during the winter season results in lack of recharge for groundwater in warmer months. Not to mention the unreliable, irregular patterns of rainfall throughout all seasons has left us facing an ongoing, severe drought that many of us were unaware of. As a generation many of us may not have expected a situation like this to ever hit so close to home. Students at Plymouth State University hold a higher sense of privilege that other communities in this area do not have access to. As blindsiding as this information can seem, it is amazing that we have the ability to educate ourselves both on and off campus in how we can do better as a community, for our community.

The Office of Environmental Sustainability here on campus was built to encourage students to want to live a sustainable lifestyle. OES works to educate PSU students on how to take care of our environment and spread awareness about its importance. Working closely with Physical Plant, OES has been contributing to the environment around our community completely beyond our knowledge. After speaking with Brian Eisenhauer, Director of OES, he shared some ‘behind-the-scenes’ secrets that none of us knew about. OES and Physical Plant have implemented plans to limit water usage around the area. By upgrading infrastructure around campus and limiting excess water usage for things like landscape, PSU has been keeping a close eye on our water usage and waste. It may be simple as taking a shorter shower or turning off the water when brushing your teeth. We can all actively take a part in helping not only PSU as a whole but starting with OES and Physical Plant to learn how we can contribute. Brian suggests that the “things we think about doing during a drought, should really be common practice.”

Overall, Northern New England has a very strong water supply, which is why many of us have gone blind to circumstances like this. We watch the news every day on the wildfires in California, but by gaining a stronger sense of awareness, we realize we are not exempt from environmental issues like this. We have a responsibility to our environment, it is our home yet constantly taken for granted. Environmental issues caused by climate change are creeping up on us now more than ever. The change should begin not only in our hands but also in our hearts. Right now, some members of thePlymouth community are unable to even shower in their own homes. Some wells in neighboring Campton have completely run dry. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the droughts this season, none of this will drastically improve overnight. Action needs to be taken and it needs to be taken now.

The first step we can take to all work together to understand our privilege and use it to others advantage, not our own. We have learned about threats of drought in previous education and seen it on television broadcasted internationally. We never thought it would happen to us, until it did. By limiting the amount of outdoor fires, restricting water usage, creating a sense of awareness and mindfulness and then sharing that with others, we will be able to see a change for our community and our surrounding neighbors. The complete disconnect from our community and the rest of the world should not excuse us from caring about our environment. We are luckyto have such easy, free access to clean water in this area and now we shouldlearn to share this with others. Educate yourselves, friends, family, peers andclassmates because right now, the state of New Hampshire can use all the help it can get, and that starts with you.