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2016 Drought Emergency

Reservoir Capacity as of 9/21/2016:
50.7%

Reservoir Levels - August 2016Effective September 8, 2016, in accordance with Chapter 7 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Worcester and the DPW&P Drought Contingency and Water Emergency Management Plan, DPW&P Commissioner Paul Moosey is issuing notice of a Stage 3 Drought Emergency. Worcester's reservoir system was at 55% capacity on September 1, 2016. The average September 1st capacity is 82%.

The reservoir capacity is now below the Stage 3 Drought Emergency trigger level established in the Drought Contingency and Water Emergency Management Plan and weather trends show little indications of relief. In order to assure the long term availability of water to meet critical health, safety and economic needs of the City it is necessary to implement further restrictions on non-critical outdoor water use and water wasting activities. These restrictions are consistent with those recently recommended by Governor Baker.

The situation is getting very serious and we are now at the point of deciding which water uses have priority. All outdoor water use is now banned. Water users are asked to find alternative water sources whenever possible.

The year to date (YTD) average rainfall across the reservoir system recorded through the end of August was 23.45 inches, which is significantly below the 24-year annual average of 32.79 inches. The reduced rainfall prevented full recovery of the reservoir system following a dry 2015. Typically the reservoir system is 80% full entering the fall months. Many residents, however, will want to perform regular fall landscape planting and maintenance which requires water. With the Stage 3 restrictions, new landscaping is discouraged. It is important that residents adhere to the mandatory restrictions.

Stage 3 Restrictions

All outdoor water use is now banned.

The mandatory outdoor irrigation ban applies to all spray irrigation systems, hose end sprinklers and hand-held hoses. Hand-watering with a watering can is not restricted.

All customers are encouraged to wait until the current drought has passed before attempting to establish any new landscaping.

Stage 3 Restrictions

  • 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 using automatic irrigation systems, hose-end sprinklers or hand held hose is prohibited. Hand watering using a watering can is allowed. Temporary Watering Variances may be granted for those landscape projects started prior to the initiation of Stage 3 Restrictions. However, variances will not be granted for the irrigation of new landscape and/or turf grass installations started after the initiation of Stage 3 Restrictions.
    4. Using water to wash down pavement, sidewalks and other ground surfaces except where a Temporary Water Use Variance is granted to alleviate 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. Vehicle washing is restricted to commercial car washes, commercial service stations or professional washing services only where water is recycled. This includes home and charity car washing. 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.
    7. Prohibit permitting of new private pools. Existing private and public pools may add water to maintain pool levels, but may not be drained and refilled.
    8. 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. Exceptions: Golf course greens and tee boxes may be watered by hand as necessary.
    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 twenty to twenty-five 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.
      • Athletic fields (fields only) may water only to protect the health and safety of the players, staff or officials present for organized athletic events, and facilities with verified private water sources pending approval for a temporary variance. Requests for a variance must be made in writing, see Temporary Watering Variances application above.
    2. Outdoor water use for cleaning driveways, decks, sidewalks, car washing or filling swimming pools 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, sidewalks, car washing or filling swimming pools 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.

Rainfall Trends

YTD Rainfall Trends - 2016 vs 24-Year Average

Reservoir Capacity Trends

Reservoir Capacity Trends - 2016 vs 24-Year Average

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.

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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