Town Nixes Strict New Water Regulations

BERLIN – Town officials this week nixed a proposal that would have prohibited all outside water use activities by residents except for between the hours of 4-6 a.m. each day after realizing the proposed resolution went far beyond the intent of the original ordinance.

Two years ago, faced with drought conditions and continued water pressure problems, the Mayor and Council passed a resolution restricting the use of in-ground lawn irrigation systems to just two hours each day from 4-6 a.m. The measure was approved after a report prepared by the town’s water superintendent revealed the in-ground sprinkler systems throughout Berlin used roughly two million gallons of water per day during the summer months.

This week, the town council reviewed an amendment to the resolution that would have extended the restrictions to include all outside water-use activities including a sprinkler connected to a hose or even the use of a hose to water flower beds or vegetable gardens.

The amendment was proposed in an effort to clarify the resolution approved by the Mayor and Council in June 2005 that limited the restrictions to just “underground” irrigation systems. The intent was to curb the use of the irrigation systems, which are often on timers, during times they weren’t needed. In some examples, the in-ground sprinkler systems were operating on schedule even when it was raining.

However, the intent was not to restrict the use of sprinklers, hoses and watering cans, but that is what almost happened on Wednesday before the council members took a closer look at the wording in the proposed amendment.

“I think we need some clarification on this,” said Council Vice President Gee Williams. “This is supposed to apply to in-ground irrigation systems, but this looks like it goes far beyond that.”

Councilwoman Paula Lynch agreed the amended resolution as worded would include all outside water use, not just the in-ground irrigation systems. She said she opposed the amendment as written.

“If this would apply to all watering, then I’m opposed,” she said. “You couldn’t wash your car except between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. You couldn’t take a hose and water your flowers.”

Williams said the appropriate thing to do was take no action on the proposed amendment.

“If we take no action, the current regulations apply only to underground irrigation systems, but if we approve this, we’re expanding it to apply to all watering,” he said.

With that, the proposed changes died for lack of a motion.