Wellesley put outdoor watering restrictions in place last spring after detecting elevated levels of forever chemicals (PFAS) in the public water supply. Many complied, some did not. Those sprinkler systems do have minds of their own.
The town has put the same restrictions in place this year, effective this week, but with a new twist: Some enforcement thanks to the new water meters that have been installed across much of town.
“We really didn’t do much enforcement last year, it was more of an awareness-level,” Department of Public Works Director Dave Cohen said during a recent Board of Public Works meeting. “This year we’ll be doing a little bit more outreach. Now that we’ve got 95% of the meters installed we have some live, real-time data about our usage. We hope to use that to help us with our outreach and our enforcement, to get people to follow along with the program.”
I followed up with Cohen on that matter of enforcement.
“I’m expecting that our ‘enforcement’ this year will include more targeted messaging, encouragement, and support to help folks comply. We now have over 95% of the Town on the new meter system so we have the ability to identify use on the wrong day and then follow up with targeted outreach. That will include door hangers, mailings, and even phone calls to our largest users if necessary. We’re also launching the new water customer portal soon and we’ll look to use that system to provide messages and information to help get compliance with the restrictions.
“One additional area we’re checking into is working with irrigation service companies to see if they might be a helpful resource in getting irrigation systems set up in harmony with the restrictions.”
The town does have the ability to issue warnings and even fines for violations, but Cohen says he doesn’t expect to go down that road unless Wellesley winds up in a drought emergency.
Outdoor Water Use Alternate Day Restrictions
Based upon street address numbers, nonessential outdoor water use is allowed according to the following schedule:
• Odd numbered addresses are restricted to Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
• Even numbered addresses are restricted to Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
• Nonessential outdoor use of water on Monday is prohibited.
Nonessential outdoor watering hours are restricted to before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. Outdoor watering is prohibited during the daytime to ensure adequate water supply for typical essential uses and to avoid loss through evaporation.
Essential uses of water are:
• For health and safety reasons
• Irrigation to establish a new lawn and new plantings between the months of May and September
• Agricultural operations to maintain livestock and crops
• Irrigation of lawns, gardens, flowers and ornamental plants by means of a hand-held hose
Nonessential uses are:
• Irrigation of lawns via sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems
• Washing of vehicles, except in a commercial car wash or as necessary for operator safety
• Washing of exterior building surfaces, parking lots, driveways or sidewalks, except as necessary to apply surface treatments such as paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement, or concrete
Amy G. says
Thank you, Swellesley Report and Dave Cohen, for forcing me to unbegrudgingly locate the accessible and idiot-proof sprinkler shutoff switch at my odd-number address. Leaving the house on foot today exposed me to many extremely disturbing signs of drought in places best, if not naturally, equipped for floods.
What are the “rules” for letting your kids run around in a “lawn sprinkler” not “underground sprinklers” an actually lawn sprinkler that attaches to a hose and also, what about filling up the kids inflatable pools? Can this be done only on certain days as well?
I understand the need to conserve water however I really hope the town applies logical common sense too with these rules.
Anyone with kids knows that slip-n-slide is an essential use, especially for those of us that don’t go away for the summer or belong to a pool club. Like, that’s literally the only thing I have to keep them entertained.
Jack Bourque says
Did you know the new water meters the Town had installed in your homes can tell the Town if your toilet is running 24/7….
Passing the savings onto recreational hose-downs!
Wellesley does a very poor job of communicating these “water bans” the past 2 years. If it was not for the swellesley report, would have no idea about this.
1) The town always sends out notices on fire hydrant flushing in the mail. Why can’t the town do something similar with water bans? Second, other towns will have digital signs stating a water ban is in affect (they use the same road signs for construction details). If the town does do this, put it in a location where people will see it (central spot where everyone in town goes to (like Roch Brothers). I have yet to see one of these in Wellesley.
2) I 100% agree with Jess. Can families with kids use a lawn/kid sprinkler for kids to run through on days that don’t match their house # during hot days? What about filing up kids pools as well or can this only be done on certain days? The town did not make this clear.
Dave Cohen if you read this can you please clarify?
Katherine Fellows says
The Town is not communicating all about the water restrictions.
When I walk or ride my bike, I observe automatic sprinklers on, regardless of the day or time.
PLEASE notify residents of this important restriction.