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2017 Drought Warning

Reservoir Capacity as of 2/1/2017:
72.6%

Reservoir ExamplesAlthough we have received increased precipitation in recent weeks, our reservoir system remains well below average. On January 1, 2017, our reservoir system was at an overall capacity of 56%, when the average is 88% capacity.

Based on these conditions and forecasts, the City's water supply status is being upgraded from the Stage 3 Drought Emergency to a Stage 2 Drought Warning effective January 23, 2017.

Forecasters predict the weak La Nina weather pattern to continue but are expected to transition into a neutral pattern over the next several months. This could possibly result in above normal temperatures and average precipitation in our region. A full recovery of the prolonged rainfall deficit of 20.25 inches over the last two years is expected to take some time and will depend greatly on the winter snow pack and precipitation as we progress into spring.

Rainfall Deficit by Year
2015 -10.48 inches
2016 -9.77 inches
Total -20.25 inches

Consumption was, overall, normal for the year. Once the message about the seriousness of the drought was received by the community in September, consumption decreased. However, this decrease only balanced the high use during the hot and very dry summer months. Total consumption in 2016 was 8,242 Million Gallons (MG), which is only slightly above the 5 year average of 8,144 MG. The Consumption Chart below shows the significant increase in use during the summer. Therefore, a revenue deficit from decreased consumption is not anticipated and customers showed an ability to conserve when called upon to do so.

Consumption Chart

While the current trend has shown some improvement, the water supply situation remains a concern and all customers need to be reminded to make an effort to conserve water. With the winter season, water use restrictions and recommendations are focused on preventing frozen pipes, leak detection and repair, and indoor water conservation.

Reservoir Levels - November 2016

Stage 2 Restrictions

The target goal of use reduction under a Winter Stage 2, Drought Warning is a ten (10) percent reduction from average winter water use and to maintain consumption at 19 million gallons per day or less.

All outdoor water use is still prohibited.

  • Applicable to All Water Users
    1. Water waste is prohibited.
    2. Failure to repair a controllable leak, including, broken sprinkler heads, water services, fire pipes, leaking valves, leaking or broken pipes or faucets is prohibited.
    3. Outdoor watering is prohibited.
    4. Using water to wash down pavement, sidewalks and other ground surfaces except where a Temporary Watering Variance is granted to allevitate a possible public health and safety risk. Applications for a variance must be submitted in writing and submitting an application does not guarantee approval.
    5. Any pressure/power washing activities must be approved by the Department and must be performed by a professional pressure/power washing service provider utilizing high efficiency equipment and a vacuum recovery system where possible. Prior to work, a Temporary Water Use Variance application must be submitted to the Department for consideration. Submitting an application does not guarantee approval.
    6. Prohibit the operation of ornamental fountains or ponds that use potable water except where necessary to support aquatic life or water quality.
  • Government
    1. Outdoor watering is prohibited at all times. Temporary Water Use Variances may be granted under special circumstances.
    2. Reduce non-essential water use. As used herein, non-essential water uses are those that do not have a health or safety impact and are not needed to meet the core function of the department.
    3. Suspend formal water main flushing program.
    4. Notify consecutive systems of actions being taken and require them to implement equivalent drought stage measures to reduce water use by ten percent.
    5. Increase public education efforts on ways to reduce water use.
    6. Increase enforcement efforts.
    7. Update list of known groundwater and leaks.
    8. Increase public leak detection efforts.
    9. Promote leak detection and repair.
    10. Prohibit the installation of new separate water meters for irrigation.
    11. Restrict use of water for Fire Department training activities.
  • Commercial, Industrial and Institutional Business Use Restrictions
    1. Outdoor watering with automatic irrigation systems and hose end sprinklers is prohibited at all times. Exceptions:
      • Hand-watering with a watering can is not restricted.
      • Commercial florists, nurseries, agricultural watering may occur pending the approval of a temporary variance. Requests for a temporary variance must be made in writing, see Temporary Watering Variances application above.
    2. Outdoor water use for cleaning driveways, decks or sidewalks is prohibited at all times.
    3. Reduce exterior washing of vehicles at commercial facilities such as automobile rental, sales and service operations, taxi companies, trucking facilities and commercial garages where less than 50% of the water used is recycled. The washing of garbage trucks and vehicles used to transport food and/or other perishables may take place as necessary for health, sanitation or public safety reasons.
    4. All restaurants shall limit the serving of tap water to patrons except upon request of the patron.
    5. Identify and repair leaks on private plumbing, automatic irrigation systems and service lines.
    6. Prohibit the use of water for dust control. Requests for a temporary variance must be submitted in writing, see the Temporary Water Use Variance application above.
    7. The use of water for construction purposes from designated fire hydrants under existing hydrant use permit shall be discontinued. Requests for a temporary variance must be submitted in wiring to extend the existing hydrant use permit.
  • Residential
    1. Outdoor watering with automatic irrigation systems and hose end sprinklers is prohibited at all times. Exception:
      • Hand-watering with a watering can is not restricted.
    2. Outdoor water use for cleaning driveways, decks or sidewalks is prohibited at all times.
    3. Identify and repair leaks on private plumbing, automatic irrigations systems and service lines.
    4. Use covers for all types of pools, hot tubs, and Jacuzzi type pools when not in use.

Water Conservation

Continuing to reduce water use will slow the rate of depletion of our water supply and help ensure a reliable water supply for the future of our city.

Thank you for your help in conserving our most valuable resource.

#WorcesterDrought

Penalties

During Declared Droughts and Water Emergencies violators of the Water Use Restrictions will be subject to fines in accordance with the following table as published in Worcester's Revised Ordinances. c. 7 § 18(g):

Emergency StageIIIIIIIV
1st Offense in a Calendar Year $0 $100 $200 $200
2nd Offense in a Calendar Year $50 $200 $250 $250
3rd Offense in a Calendar Year $100 $250 $300 $300
4th and Subsequent Offenses $200 $300 $300 $300
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