Haverhill Looks to Detail Drought-Related Water Rules, Set Fines

Haverhill Water Treatment Plant.

Haverhill city councilors are expected to decide in two weeks whether to adopt proposed changes to the city’s water ordinance and set four threshold-based levels of water conservation in “periods of drought or other circumstances.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is asking the council to amend the “water use restriction” article of the city’s water ordinance to, among other things, “implement an outdoor water restriction program that specifies thresholds at which water restrictions would be imposed based on climatic conditions and water levels in the reservoirs.” The amendment, to be placed on file by the council Tuesday, would establish four water supply drought status levels based on supply capacity reductions at Kenoza Lake, the city’s main water source. According to documents, a drought “watch” would be triggered by a five percent capacity reduction. A drought “warning,” prompting voluntary conservation measures, would come when supply capacity is down by 10 percent. A drought “emergency,” at 20 percent below supply capacity, would impose mandatory outdoor water use restrictions. A 35 percent under capacity threshold would trigger a “critical” drought status and allow, in addition to mandatory restrictions, “additional measures enacted to preserve the water supply.” The revised thresholds would comply with a Water Management Act Permit issued to the city by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, according to Fiorentini.

“The thresholds in the revised ordinance were developed based on historical lake levels and trigger actions we feel are appropriate for the water supply situation,” Fiorentini wrote to councilors. “The actions range from public notification and voluntary conservation to various levels of water use restrictions up to an outdoor watering ban.”

Outdoor water uses exempt from “nonessential” restrictions would include agricultural purposes; irrigation “with harvested and stored storm water runoff;” irrigation of public parks and recreation fields by automatic sprinkler between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.; and irrigation by golf courses or nurseries, for example, “to meet the core functions of a business.”

Under the amended ordinance, water restriction violators would be subject to a warning for a first day offense and a $50 fine the second day. Third and subsequent violation days would call for a $100 fine each and the water customer “may be subject to termination of water service.”

“Fines shall be recovered by indictment or by complaint before the district court, or by non-criminal disposition,” the amendment reads. “For purposes of non-criminal disposition, the enforcing officer shall be any police officer of the city, or the director or assistant director of public works or their designee. If a state of water supply emergency is declared the Water Division may shut off the water at the meter or the curb stop.”

The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

2 thoughts on “Haverhill Looks to Detail Drought-Related Water Rules, Set Fines

  1. All of what you say may be accurate, but how else do you propose that excessive water users can be made to think two or three times before they waste our precious water. Has anyone walked around Kenoza Lake lately? The water level is WAY, WAY down. I have seldom seen so much visible shoreline; our water supply is indeed dwindling into the dangerously LOW level.

  2. Just what mayor taxman loves….a big, juicy new untapped revenue source.
    Next up….buying a city vehicle and hiring employees to go door to door to ensure mandatory participation.
    Sound silly? Not at all….he does it all the time. This incompetent mayor did it with the downtown parking fees. He hired employees and bought a car to drive around downtown to ticket as many cars as possible. And let’s not forget he hired people to go around the city to ticket homeowners for not having their trash out at the curb on time.
    The people of Haverhill who keep voting for this incompetent hack are getting exactly what they deserve.