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Full Watering Ban in Effect After State Declares Drought Conditions

Due to an announcement by the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs stating that much of the state is now in a “significant drought” the Town of Burlington announced on Tuesday a total watering ban. 

“No automated irrigating of any kind will be permitted,” a notice from the Department of Public Works states. “Please limit your lawn and plant care to hand-held hose only. No exemptions will be given for new sod or seed.”

The following uses are permitted: 

  • Watering of gardens, flowers, and ornamental plantings by means of a hand-held hose only, will be allowed before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • To meet core functions of a business or commercial activity
  • Applying necessary surface treatments (aka washing exterior surfaces) such as paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement, or cement. 

Penalties:

According to the Town Bylaws Section 5.4 the Town, through its Select Board, may declare a State of Water Conservation. Section 5.9 states the Penalties for violating the Water Restriction are: 

  • Any person violating shall be issued a warning for the first violation, shall be liable to the Town in the amount of $50 for the second violation, and $100 for each subsequent violation thereafter.  
  • These fines are non-criminal disposition. 

According to the state the Northeast and Southeast regions of Massachusetts are in what is termed a “Level 2-Significant Drought” which requires communities to take some mitigating steps, including watering bans. The immediate steps communities are advised to take include: 

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Implement drought or seasonal water rates.
  • Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

“Most regions across the Commonwealth are now experiencing drought-like conditions, so we all need to continue to implement water conservation methods in order to reduce impacts on our water supplies and our natural environment, which supports migrating species of fish, aquatic plant life, and habitats and ecosystems,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “These dry conditions also serve as an important reminder that extra precautions should be taken when utilizing an open flame in order to prevent wildland fires.”

No indication of when the watering ban might end has been given, however, the Drought Management Task Force will meet again on Monday, July 11. 

“Furthermore, state agencies will continue to closely monitor and assess conditions across the state, coordinate any needed dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare additional responses that may be needed in the future,” the announcement reads.  

Finally, though the town does have a limited connection to the MWRA it is not large enough to avoid the watering ban.

“Although the Town joined the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in December 2020, the current connection to the Town of Lexington’s water system is not large enough to allow for the elimination of outdoor watering restrictions in the near future,” the DPW states. “The Town of Burlington must comply with what is mandated by the State.”