Town of Greenwich enacts Phase 2 of water use restrictions

As the Town’s water supplies continue to diminish, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the enactment of Phase 2 of the Town’s Water Supply Emergency ordinance at a special meeting held Thursday, Oct. 6. Phase 2 restrictions are effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice.

Although water consumption has been reduced, this action is necessary in order to further decrease the demand on both the Town’s public and private water supplies including private wells. With the continued lack of rain, the Aquarion Water Co. reservoir system that services the Town of Greenwich is at 29 percent of capacity, down from 34 percent a week ago.

(Aquarion estimates that more than 10 inches of rain is needed to fully recharge the reservoir system.)

Included in the expanded water use restrictions, all residents as well as all industrial and commercial businesses “must immediately formulate and implement a water conservation plan that reduces consumption by 20 percent.” Water use for irrigation of existing lawns is prohibited.  Variances for newly seeded lawns and plantings issued during Phase I are null and void. To protect water resources from siltation, variances may be granted by the Conservation Director for seeding (no sod) of bare soil to limit erosion.

Also, all eating facilities are prohibited from serving of water. However, water may be served only upon request of a patron.

For its part, the Town of Greenwich has implemented several changes in its operations, across many departments and agencies.

The Greenwich Fire Department is now assigning a tanker truck response for all calls in areas that are served by Aquarion because of concerns about water pressure and fire flow availability. The Department also has delayed its hose testing program until Spring, saving an estimated 40,000 gallons of water. The Department’s public education presentation no longer include a hose/water flow station for the children, and the Department is now longer providing watering participation for public events including last weekend’s Muddy Up event and the upcoming Pineapple Run.

The Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Agency is allowing applicants with pending planting requirements to postpone such plantings until the spring.

The Fleet Department has suspended all vehicle washing operations.

The Department of Public Works no is using water when using street-sweepers for street cleaning. The Department also is limiting routine maintenance of sewer lines with the use of vacuum trucks because of the water needed to clean the lines.

All playing field maintenance, re-sodding and tree plantings have been deferred until spring by the Parks & Recreation Department. And all field sprinkler systems have been shut down. The Department’s boat bottom cleaning program that is underway as mariners haul out their boats from Town marinas employs a water recycling program. The Griffith Harris Golf Club is irrigating only tees and greens with water from a pond on the course.

Since Phase 1 of the Water Use Ban was approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen on Sept. 22, the Greenwich Police Department has received 153 complaints on water ban violations 67 of which resulted in property owners receiving a warning. The Water Ban also allows for officers to issue a summons to repeat water use offenders that carries a $91 fine for each violation. As of Thursday, October 6, property owners have been compliant and no summonses have been issued.

Water Supply Emergency Phase II – For Implementation immediately.

The use of fire hydrants for any purpose other than fire protection, public health requirements, or other emergency or authorized use, is prohibited.

Outdoor Water Irrigation

Mandatory water ban of all outdoor watering unless necessary to sustain food crops or crops for harvest by commercial farms. Watering of new plantings is allowed by bucket or watering can.

Water use for irrigation of existing lawns is prohibited.  Variances for newly seeded lawns and plantings issued during Phase I are null and void. To protect water resources from siltation, variances may be granted by the Conservation Director for seeding (no sod) of bare soil to limit erosion.  

Watering of plants at commercial operations is allowed according to restrictions in section 1.6.

New plantings and lawn seeding/sodding should be postponed for a late fall or spring planting.

Prohibition of all other outdoor water uses, including but not limited to:

  • Use of water for private and/or public ornamental or decorative purposes including but not limited to fountains, waterfalls, reflecting pools, and/or ponds.
  • Use of water to wash or clean motor vehicles or vessels unless done as a means of livelihood at a commercial facility with recycling system in place  (see section 1.8). Boats being removed from the water for the winter season may use hand held hose or bucket to clean bottom.
  • Use of water to flush driveway, sidewalks, decks or other outdoor surfaces.  
  • Use of water to clean outsides of buildings, decks or structures.  No power washing is allowed.  
  • Use of water to clean windows unless done as a means of livelihood and only then by washing exclusively from a bucket or container of three (3) gallons capacity or less.
  • No new water diversions or hookups are to be allowed to provide for outdoor or non-essential use.  This includes the drilling of new irrigation wells, or diversions from ponds, streams or other surface waters.  All residents are asked to maintain surface water levels for fire protection purposes.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs shall not be filled unless the following exemption criteria is met:
  • Water used to fill is obtained from an acceptable source that is not under drought advisory or restrictions and is independent of private wells and/or the public water supply system.
  • Use of the pool is necessitated by a documented medical or health related reason.
  • Commercial and public swimming pools already in operation may maintain water levels but cannot be refilled if drained.

Restrictions on industrial and commercial (including private clubs) consumption:

  • All industrial and commercial businesses must immediately formulate and implement a water conservation plan that reduces consumption by twenty percent (20%).  This plan shall be in writing and shall be kept on the premises and available for inspection by Town officials.  For purposes of this Plan, the average water meter readings for the last 12 months will be the minimum basis for the determination by each business or facility of its reduction in its water conservation plan.
  • Businesses shall follow the outdoor water restrictions in previous sections unless specifically referenced otherwise in this document.
  • Each plant nursery or other commercial grower engaged in the business of growing, distributing or selling plants shall prepare and implement a water conservation plan as described above.  Such plans must be submitted to the Conservation Director.  Watering of new plants being installed is allowed at time of planting only. Plants must be able to survive without irrigation.  Trucking in water from outside is allowed provided that the water is obtained from an acceptable source that is not under drought advisory or restrictions and is independent of private wells and/or the public water supply system.  A bill of sale showing origin of water is required.
  • Mandatory restrictions on watering of fairways at golf courses.  Courses must limit irrigation to tee areas and greens and be in compliance with their Drought Management Plans.  All courses are required to maintain adequate levels in ponds registered with the fire department as fire ponds  with the fire department. Voluntary maintenance of pond and other surface water levels are requested to ensure proper fire safety.
  • No serving of water to eating facility customers, except on request.
  • The operation of commercial automatic and “do it yourself” car/vehicle washes is permitted if the car wash meets either of the following exemption criteria and has filed a water conservation plan in accordance with the requirements detailed above.
  • The use of re-circulating systems is required. If no recycling system is operational, the car wash establishment must demonstrate that it uses no more than a maximum total of 45 gallons of potable water including make-up and rinse water, per unit washed.
  • Vehicle washing by auto/boat dealers is prohibited with the exception of prepping a unit that has been sold or is in for service.
  • Washing for these purposes must be in compliance with the requirements above.
  • Leaks in residential water connections shall be repaired within forty-eight (48) hours of detection.

In addition to mandatory requirements, all residents are required to reduce water usage by 20%.  This includes making sure that all plumbing and air conditioning systems that use water are in good repair with no leakage.

No drawing of water for transport by truck from any surface water supply except for emergency purposes as determined by the Director of Health and the Fire Chief.

The Fire Department will continue monitoring of public land for fire hazards and possible park closures.

Additional restrictions may be adopted as recommended by the Director of Health, Conservation Director, and the Fire Chief at any time.

For more information, contact Conservation Director Denise Savageau at 203-622-6461, or Executive Assistant to the First Selectman, Barbara Heins, at 203-622-7702.

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