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Worcester Drinking Water - Stage 1 Drought

Public Notice: The City Manager has announced that the City has entered a Stage 1 Drought. Restrictions go into effect as of Monday, October 5, 2020.

Reservoir Capacity as of 11/18/20: 57.5%

Water Storage

Worcester's reservoir capacity has shown continued decline since May. The reservoir system reached an overall capacity of 59% on November 1, 2020. Current capacity remains below the 24 year average.

Chart Showing Reservoir Capacity Trends


Rainfall totals through September show that the reservoir system has received 8.66 inches below normal for the year. Below is a chart of the monthly rainfall totals compared to the average amount normally seen.

Chart Showing Rainfall Trends


In current conditions, even average daily water usage in combination with a lack of rainfall leads to depletion of the water supply. The target goal of use reduction under this Stage 1, Water Supply Alert is a five (5) percent reduction in overall water use. Reducing our daily consumption by five percent will slow the depletion of our water supply and reduce the potential for further water use restrictions.

Stage 1 Restrictions

Keep in mind that it is at the end of the growing season and most irrigation systems will soon be shut off. All irrigation system owners are encouraged to shut down their systems now, rather than waiting a few weeks.

Water waste is prohibited, which includes the following:

  • Failure to repair a controllable leak, including, broken sprinkler heads, water services, fire pipes, leaking valves, leaking or broken pipes or faucets.
  • Knowingly operating an irrigation system with (a) a broken head; (b) a head that is out of adjustment and spraying into the street, parking area or sidewalk; or (c) a system that is misting/fogging due to excessive water pressure.
  • Allowing irrigation water to: (a) run off property forming a stream of water for a distance of 50 feet or greater; (b) run into a storm drain; (c) pond to a depth of ¼ inch or greater.
  • Allowing or causing an irrigation system or lawn watering device to operate while it is raining or when temperatures are at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • 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.
  • Shut down all City operated irrigation systems and fountains.
  • Notify consecutive systems of actions being taken and require them to implement equivalent drought stage measures to reduce water use by five percent.
  • Limit hydrant use permits. Variances may be granted under the approval of the Commissioner.
  • Increase public education efforts on ways to reduce water use.
  • Increase enforcement efforts.
  • Update list of known groundwater and leaks.
  • Increase public leak detection efforts.
  • Promote leak detection and repair.

Commercial, Industrial & Institutional Business

  • Identify and repair leaks on private plumbing, automatic irrigation systems and service lines.
  • 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.
  • Prohibit washing of paved areas by any means except where a variance is granted to alleviate a possible public health and safety risk.


  • Identify and repair leaks on private plumbing, automatic irrigations systems and service lines.
  • Prohibit washing of paved areas by any means.

Contact Information

Customer Service
76 East Worcester Street
Worcester, MA 01604

Accessible via WRTA Bus Line. View Schedules

Phone: 508-929-1300
Fax: 508-799-1448
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Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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