Town to issue water restrictions, can fine violators

September 20, 2016 GMT

GREENWICH — In response to mandatory water use restrictions put in place by Aquarion Water Company, the town of Greenwich is taking its own action.

On Thursday First Selectman Peter Tesei said the Board of Selectmen will officially enact an existing town ordinance for water conservation measures.

“If you have an irrigation system you are to shut it down,” Tesei said. “Aquarion is able to monitor their largest customers and determine changes to flow. But when the Board of Selectmen enacts the ordinance there is a mechanism within the code which allows for enforcement and fines.”

Tesei made the announcement at Monday night’s Representative Town Meeting so people could start to spread the word. More details are expected to be revealed on Thursday. But according to town Conservation Director Denise Savageau, the Greenwich Police Department will be monitoring enforcement and can issue tickets for $90 fines per offense for people ignoring the restrictions and continuing to irrigate.

“This situation is serious and is one that requires all of our cooperation,” Tesei said.

Last week Aquarion announced mandatory restrictions for Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan and Darien. The action is a result of the severe drought Connecticut has been in for the summer and Monday’s rain is not expected to have an immediate effect.

“Aquarion did so because of the depletion of its reservoir capacities over the last summer months due to the lack of rain,” Tesei said Monday night. “They are six inches behind average and despite today’s (rain) remain challenged as we head into the fall and winter season.”

Savageau said Monday’s rain was “too little and very spotty” for it to have much of an impact. She said a little more than an inch of rain was registered in town and that reservoir levels have continued to fall. She said the current level is at 34.9 percent, down from 38.6 percent last week.

The Greenwich restrictions are in line with the ones that have already been issued by Aquarion. Irrigation systems, sprinklers and soaker hoses cannot be used in the affected municipalities. The ban went into effect on Friday but once the town’s ordinance is activated, Greenwich has the power to enforce it with the fines.

“We are doing this to ensure that we have an adequate water supply for everyday use and fire protection,” Aquarion President and CEO Charles Firlotte said last week.

Tesei said the ordinance power the Board of Selectmen has stems from a drought in Greenwich in the late 1970’s where the town was down to a two-week supply of water. Savageau said significant changes have been made since then including connecting Greenwich’s water supply with Aquarion’s providing access to emergency water if needed.