April 26 2016

Selectmen Approve Even/Odd Day Watering Restriction for the Summer

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington homeowners who own sprinkler systems and use them daily are going to have to cut back on how often they water the grass this summer. 

The Burlington Board of Selectmen voted to approve mandatory outdoor water restriction during Monday night’s meeting that will be in effect from May 1st to October 31st.

The restriction effects watering of lawns via sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems and washing of exterior building surfaces, parking lots, driveways or sideways except as necessary to apply surface treatments such as paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement or cement. 


The restriction limits these activities to every other day. The way it works is if you have an odd-numbered house you can use your sprinkler or irrigation system on odd-numbered days between the hours of 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Even-numbered homes can water on even-numbered days. Everyone is allowed to water on the 31st of the month. 


Activities that are allowed at all times include irrigation to establish a new lawn and new plantings, irrigation of public parks and recreational fields, irrigations of lawns, garden, flowers and plantings by means of a hand-held hose, watering by businesses who need it to meet core business functions and private wells. 


Failure to comply with the mandatory water restrictions will result in a warning for a first violation, a $50 fine for a second and a $100 fine for each subsequent violation. 


The reason the board implemented the water restrictions is that Department of Public Works Director John Sanchez said the town had to take three of the town’s wells offline in 2013. He said the water in wells 3, 4, and 5 at the Vine Brook Treatment Plant tested for higher levels of 1.4 dioxane, a solvent used in manufacturing that has health effects, than allowed under new guidelines from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 


In 2011 the DEP lowered the Drinking Water Guideline for 1,4 dioxane from 3 parts per billion (ppb) to 0.3 ppb. Testing of the wells in 2012 showed that the three wells in question were all above that limit so they were taken off line. 


Sanchez said that in the last two summers the Water Division was able to meet the town’s water demands but did so without a redundancy in the system. Also, daily use in town goes from 2.5 million gallons in the winter to 5.5 million gallons in the summer and most of the increase is from sprinkler and irrigation systems. 


“In order to maintain a minimum recommended level at the reservoir to meet water demand for the summer I am requesting approval to implement the water restriction policy,” he wrote in a memo to the board. 


The selectmen were in favor of the measure and voted 5-0-0 to implement it. 


“I think it’s a great idea,” Selectman Joe Morandi said. “People will still be able to water the grass but we’ll have conservation of water. I see no problem with this at all.”

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