Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

Water Conservation Ordinances

Pub Date: 
Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Whereas the Southern New England region is in an extended drought period impacting water levels in the Scituate Reservoir which supplies approximately sixty percent of the state's users; and

Whereas water conservation measures need to become a standard practice for all users to extend the water resources available before extreme supply and demand management actions become necessary; and

Whereas the increasing number of municipalities in the state drawing all or part of their water from the Pawtuxet River Watershed, which includes the Scituate Reservoir system operated by the Providence Water Supply Board, has led to excessive "out-of-basin" transfers; and

Whereas Rhode Island General Law 46-15.5-3 states: "The Providence Water Supply Board shall release a minimum of nine million gallons of water per day into the Pawtuxet River from the Scituate Reservoir," and

Whereas the proper operation of necessary commercial and industrial enterprises, wastewater treatment facilities and natural aquatic systems are dependant upon minimal flows; and

Whereas excessive amounts of water are routinely used to irrigate lawns in these "out of basin" communities;

Now, therefore be it resolved that the Environment Council Of Rhode Island calls upon all municipalities drawing water from the Scituate Reservoir to pass and enforce ordinances to control the amount of water drawn from the Scituate Reservoir; and

Be it further resolved that said ordinances should, at a minimum, include regulations relating to the irrigation of lawns and ought to include provisions that limit lawn irrigation to even or odd days that coincide with the billing addresses of water users when drought phase is declared to be at advisory levels (i.e., step 8) by the Rhode Island Water Resources Board, and create penalties for users who:

  • over irrigate to the point that excess water runs off user's property;
  • misdirect irrigation devices resulting in paved surfaces becoming drenched;
  • use timer irrigation devices that do not turn off on rainy days,
    or irrigate during the daylight hours of 9am to 5pm; and

Be it further resolved that said ordinances should prohibit the washing of driveways and sidewalks, and encourage low water use landscape techniques, known as xeriscape, for new developments and restoration projects.