September 28 2016

Full Outdoor Water Usage Ban Declared in Burlington

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington residents and businesses are now under a complete outdoor water usage ban. 


The measure was approved by the Burlington Board of Selectmen during a meeting on Wednesday night. The vote was made after Department of Public Works Director John Sanchez informed the board the reservoir level was only five feet from the intake. He said that level gives the town only 21 days if something were to go wrong or if the drought worsened. 


“That is our bottom level, we won’t go past that,” he said. “If something fails at a treatment plant, it takes a couple of weeks to repair.”


According to a release from the town, the town-wide ban is on all non-essential outside water use, and shall remain in place for the duration of this emergency.  The term “non-essential outside water use” is defined to include those uses that do not have health or safety impacts, are not required by regulation, and are not needed to meet core functions of a business or other organization. No outdoor water use will be allowed at any time, any day.


Outdoor Watering Restrictions consists of:


  • - No irrigation of lawns via sprinklers or automatic irrigation system
  • - No irrigation to establish a new lawn and new plantings.
  • - No irrigation of lawns, gardens, flowers, and ornamental plantings by means of a hand-held hose.
  • - No irrigation of public parks and recreational fields by means of automatic sprinklers
  • - No car washing
  • - No washing of exterior building surfaces, parking lots, driveways or sidewalks, except as necessary to apply surface treatments such as paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement or cement.
  • - Or any other outside water use that does not have health or safety impacts.


Activities permitted:


  • - To meet core functions of a business or commercial activity
  • - Private wells




Any person violating shall be issued a warning for the first violation, and shall be liable to the Town in the amount of $50 for the second violation, and $100 for each subsequent violation thereafter.


The board also voted to request that the state declare a water emergency in Burlington. This is required step to being allowed to purchase water from neighboring communities. Some of Burlington’s neighbors, including Lexington, Bedford and Woburn, are part of the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) and so get their water from the Quabbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts, which is not facing such severe drought conditions. 


Sanchez said the town is just about ready to start receiving water from a neighbor. He said when that happens it will supply about 25 percent of Burlington’s supply. When asked he said the cost, if it lasted a month, would be about $70,000, but that he doesn’t believe Burlington would need to purchase water for that long. 

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