In-ground Irrigation Systems in Concord, MA

Essential Water Use Allowance

Residential water customers can expect to be served with reliable and quality water service.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines essential service as 65 gallons per day per capita or approximately 160 gallons per household per day.  Concord’s existing water system is designed and permitted to provide this service, with a sufficient allowance of “redundancy.”  Higher intensity, non-essential residential water use such as that used for in-ground irrigation systems place a disproportional burden on Concord’s existing supply.  

A recent assessment of all customers with registered in-ground irrigation systems show that these customers use, on average, 200 gallons per day per capita or 500 gallons per household during the extended summer period.  Because of this disproportionate impact, customers with in-ground irrigation systems are assessed a one-time connection fee ($1,380) that is used to offset capital and permitting investments required to mitigate this service.  Additionally, whereas this increased water burden is only realized during summer months, the Concord Public Works Commission has set a seasonal increasing block rate fee structure for water use over 300 gallons per day per household.  This is required to offset increased operating costs incurred during this peak demand period.  

In-ground Irrigation System Bylaw

In 1995, the Town adopted the Water Use Restriction Bylaw which was amended via the 2002 Town Meeting that requires registration of all automatic in-ground irrigation systems permanently connected to the public water supply. In addition, to ensure irrigation water is used safely and efficiently, all systems are required to be equipped with the following:    

  • Controller – capable of being programmed to automatically limit operation to prescribed schedules and restrictions
  • Rain sensor – to automatically shut off systems during and immediately after rain events
  • Backflow prevention device – to protect quality of drinking water. Systems installed after October 9, 2002 must have a Reduced Pressure Zone backflow preventer.

Why the Town wants to know about your in-ground sprinkler

Did you know that Concord’s water demand doubles during the summer months, largely due to outdoor water use? A properly designed and operated irrigation system will result in "smarter sprinkling" by a) avoiding lawn watering during or after rainfall when the ground doesn’t need it and b) by timing watering early in the morning when it is most efficiently absorbed into the ground.

When the over 700 in-ground irrigation systems in Concord are registered and properly equipped:

- Peak period water consumption will be reduced.
- Water emergencies and outdoor water use bans will be less likely.
- There will be less wear and tear on the Town’s water pumping systems.
- Homeowners will realize long-term savings, as the devices pay for themselves in one-to-two years.
- Water quality protection will be enhanced.
 

Installing a new or upgrading an old irrigation system?

  1. Call Digsafe – State law requires a minimum notification of 72 hours with the intent to excavate within 30 days.
  2. Get a plumbing permit (from the Building Department)
  3. Submit a Design Data Sheet and receive an approval letter from CPW’s Water Division prior to installing your backflow prevention device.
  4. Submit an in-ground irrigation registration form and connection fee payment to Concord Public Works’ Water and Sewer Division (before installation)
  5. Sign up to receive important updates on level of water conservation
  6. Install the irrigation system

We recommend a knowledgeable contractor assist the homeowner in completing the above tasks as the contractor is usually more familiar with the information required to complete the application.

What if I have an existing irrigation system that I would like to register?

If you have an in-ground irrigations system that was installed prior to 2016 and were previously unaware of the irrigation system bylaw and associated registration requirement, you can still register this system without incurring the $1,380 connection fee.  Simply give us a call and we will review the historic water usage for your property. If the water use records suggest that the system was installed and operational prior to 2016, this fee for high intensity, non-essential water use may be waived on a case-by-case basis.   

How to find a reputable irrigation provider?

For more information on the in-ground irrigation bylaw, connection fee or other water conservation measures, send an email to: msimoncini@concordma.gov or call 978-318-3250.