MUNICIPALITIES Background Information

Support for Ordinances: Outdoor Water Conservation Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is intended to help municipalities curtail unnecessary water waste associated with seasonal outdoor water usage, which can lead to an unnecessary reduction in reservoir storage, ground water levels, and stream flows.  In addition, over-watering actually inhibits the health and drought-tolerance of turf.  This ordinance seeks to help extend available supplies through short-term drought periods and avoid recurrent drought warnings/water emergencies caused by late summer “drought.”

This ordinance recommends a two day per week watering schedule.   Odd/even watering schedules are not recommended as water use often increases due to the perception by owners that it is necessary to water every other day.  Municipalities should consider enforceability when determining how to establish the most appropriate watering schedule for their communities.  An example of an effective structure would be to allow watering on the same days as garbage collection.  In addition, this ordinance recommends morning and late afternoon/early evening irrigation periods to capitalize on low evapotranspiration (ET) rates and recommends a watering duration limit of 30 minutes per acre to reduce over-watering.  This recommendation varies for those having rotary irrigation heads, SMART irrigation systems or a qualified irrigation manager.

Regardless of the type of schedule structure implemented, it should be understood that irrigation in New Jersey is intended to be supplemental to natural rainfall and that during periods of rain, lawns may not need any additional watering.

Finally, this ordinance recommends extending the reach of the New Jersey rain sensor law by requiring that all automatic irrigation systems are equipped with operational rain sensors no matter what year they were installed.  The current New Jersey law requires systems installed after September 8, 2000 to be equipped with an operational rain sensor.  Municipalities should consider monitoring this requirement through a combination of routine monitoring and inspections, including Time of Sale and Certificate of Occupancy inspections. 


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