DPW News - Outdoor Water Usage

News from the Director of Public Works
Outdoor Water Usage

As Spring begins, and with it, increased outdoor water use, the Director of Public Works is issuing this statement to provide information to the public and encourage conservation and careful use of water by residents.

Drought conditions prevailed in most of Massachusetts during 2016.  Notwithstanding rain and snow over the winter, the Town remains under a drought advisory because of very low rainfall last year. 

The Town is currently required by the State to continue to limit outdoor water use from May 1st through September 30th.   Non-essential outdoor water use is prohibited from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm throughout this five month period.   This limit could become further restricted if drought conditions continue this coming season.   But that limit does not by itself assure reduced water use.  

At the end of the 2016 summer season, the Town received a number of resident inquiries about unexpectedly high water bills. Although every household’s situation is different, in the overwhelming majority of cases that the Town reviewed, the higher charges resulted from increased outdoor water use by the homeowner. 

With low rainfall, it is expected that many residents will use more water outdoors for lawns and other irrigation than during wetter years.  Upton’s water billing rates are based on usage, with higher per 1,000 gallon charges for higher volume users. That increasing block rate system is based on State regulations intended to promote conservation. 

The State’s long-term environmental goal is to reduce household water use to 65 gallons per person per day over the course of the year.  The Town believes the majority of residences using more than the 65 gallon goal have reasonable options to reduce that amount, particularly in the area of outdoor use. 

The Town is required by law to comply with the State policy, and strives to assure a safe, adequate water supply for all residents and fire protection.  The Town’s rate and water management policies are part of that effort. It is hoped that this information is helpful. For any question or concern about this subject, including questions about your own water bill, please contact the Department of Public Works at (508) 529-3067.