Southwick water ban lifted

SOUTHWICK – DPW Director Randy Brown announced on Monday afternoon that town water use restriction has been lifted.

If the flows in the Westfield River fall below 174 cubic feet per second for three consecutive days, that’s considered to be too low and therefore cause a water-use restriction. Brown also noted that the long-term forecast seems favorable and it isn’t projected to be hot and dry. According to Brown, the water flow in the Westfield River has reached levels above the minimum thresholds resulting in the ban being lifted. 

On July 14, an outdoor water-use restriction was put in place due to the test of the mean daily stream flow in the Westfield River falling below 174 cubic feet per second for three consecutive days. Initially, the restriction was expected to be in effect until September 30.

The restriction is focused on non-essential water use, which includes the following:

·       Irrigation of lawns via sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems

·       Washing of vehicles, except in a commercial car wash or as necessary for operator safety or to prevent damage and/or maintain performance of agricultural or construction vehicles or equipment

Southwick DPW Director Randy Brown. (Photo courtesy of Greg Fitzpatrick)

·       Washing of exterior building surfaces, parking lots, driveways or sidewalks, except as necessary to apply surface treatments such as paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement or cement

However, there are water-use activities that are not subject to the restriction and they are listed below:

·       Irrigation to establish a new lawn and new plantings during the months of May and September

·       Irrigation of parks and recreational fields by means of automatic sprinklers outside the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (early morning or late evening)

·       Irrigation of gardens, flowers and ornamental plants by means of a hand-held hose, soaker hose or drip irrigation system

·       Irrigation of lawns by means of a hand-held hose only

·       Irrigation with harvested and stored stormwater runoff

·       For health and safety reasons

·       By regulation

·       For the production of food and fiber

·       For the maintenance of livestock

·       To meet the core functions of a business (i.e. irrigation by golf courses as necessary to maintain tees, greens, and limited fairway watering; or irrigation by plant nurseries as necessary to maintain stock or establish new plantings, wash equipment to prevent damage and/or maintain performance, pest management and plant cooling)

Although, once the flows of the water reached the threshold or above, the Southwick DPW had the option of lifting the restriction. Due to the Town of Southwick’s Water Management Act Permit, future low flow levels of the Westfield River could cause the ban to be reinstated.

“If that happens again, we will need to re-enter into another round of restrictions,” said Brown.

During the restriction, some residents in town were issued notices or warnings for not complying with the ban, but Brown said no one was fined. If after being warned a resident does not comply with the non-essential outdoor water restriction, they will be fined $50 for their first offense, followed by a $100 fine for every subsequent offense.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that Southwick has implemented an outdoor water-use restriction as they did so on July 1, 2016. On October 6, 2016, Brown announced that the water ban had been lifted. The Massachusetts DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) gives municipalities the option every year on October 1 to lift their restriction or not.

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