Twice-Weekly Sprinkler Irrigation Schedule

Irrigation FAQs

Irrigation Variance FAQs
Irrigation Scheduling FAQs
Sustainable Plantings & Tips

 

People across Connecticut are putting water high on the list of things to use more efficiently, especially given the large fluctuations in the amount of rain and snow we receive. Plus, of course, the finite nature of the water supply and the essential role it plays in human, economic and environmental well-being. 

In the communities shown below, residents are saving millions of gallons of water each year by following a mandatory schedule for sprinkler irrigation.

For Customers in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Newtown, Stamford and Westport

Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering are allowed at any time. Some residential and commercial customers may qualify for a variance from the schedule. Learn about our variance programs here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irrigation Variances

What types of variances from the schedule does Aquarion offer?
As detailed below, customers may apply for variances to:

  • Establish new plantings 
  • Irrigate areas too large to water on a single day
  • Use high-efficiency systems programmed to water only when required by soil and weather conditions.

Some uses are automatically exempt from the schedule and don’t require a variance. They include:

  • Watering with drip irrigation, soaker hoses or hand-watering
  • Using water from a non-Aquarion source (though state and local regulations may not permit this)
  • Irrigating during the repair or testing of an automatic irrigation system 
  • Irrigating commercial nursery stock

 

I’m trying to get a new lawn and landscaping established. How can I do that on a twice-weekly watering schedule?
You can apply for a variance. We have a variance program that allows off-schedule watering of new plantings between April 1 and June 16, and between September 1 and October 31 – the prime spring and fall planting times, when sod and other plantings are most likely to survive. You can find an application here. 

Once a variance is granted, you may also apply for a two-week extension during the two open periods. However, when the program is closed, or when rainfall levels remain below normal levels and/or demands are high, no extensions will be granted.

In planning your landscaping, we urge you to consider:

  • Drought-tolerant plantings - The University of Connecticut (UConn) has published excellent factsheets on drought-tolerant annuals and perennials, along with conservation and best practices for turf grass irrigation. 
  • Hand-watering - If you are only planting a few new shrubs or a new tree, consider watering with a soaker hose, hand watering or drip irrigation on any day without a variance.

 

We have a huge lawn that our system can’t water on a single day. What can we do?

  • If your property is larger than two acres and can’t be watered in one day, you can apply for a variance here. We will then send you an Irrigation Evaluation Form that you’ll need to complete and return to us.

Please keep in mind: 

  • We will need to make an on-site assessment of your irrigation system.
  • You must commit to a 15% water savings when compared to your 2015 usage.
  • This variance program is open from early April to the end of October.
  • No matter the size of any property, anyone who waters outside the mandatory irrigation schedule without a variance will be in violation of the ordinance.

 

Ours irrigation system is certified as high-efficiency, and its operation is governed by soil and weather conditions – not a timer. What should we do?
If your system uses an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense® Weather-Based controller, which runs a schedule based upon site and weather conditions, you can apply for a variance here. We will then send you an Irrigation Evaluation Form to complete and return to us.

Please keep in mind:

  • We will need to make an on-site assessment of your irrigation system.
  • You must commit to a 20% water savings when compared to your 2015 usage.
  • This variance program is open from early April to the end of October.
  • No matter how efficient your system is, anyone who waters outside the mandatory irrigation schedule without a variance will be in violation of the ordinance.

 

Do I have to apply for a variance permit every year even though I have been approved in previous years?
Yes, because we will need to review your most recent consumption data.

 

Why must we complete the Irrigation Evaluation Form in advance to be considered for a large property or high-efficiency variance? 
Our irrigation assessment team needs it determine how much time your assessment should take. It also allows the assessment to be performed more quickly and efficiently by reducing questions about the type of controller, the number of zones, etc. It should be easy for your irrigation company to complete the form – in fact, we recommend it.

 

Why does my property’s licensed irrigation contractor have to be onsite during the on-site assessment? 
Aquarion’s assessor will be asking questions that your licensed irrigation contractor will best be able to answer. They will also be able fix problems that may come up during the inspection, such as leaks, overspray, and broken heads – issues that will need to be resolved before a variance can be approved.

 

Is displaying our variance permit mandatory?
Yes, we ask our customers to display their permit in a window or another place that is easily seen from the street. This will prevent our field teams from marking your property for a violation should they see off-schedule irrigation. A visible permit will also let your neighbors know your property has been approved for a variance.

 

What about golf courses?
Most courses in our area have already implemented water conservation strategies. Any course is welcome to apply for a variance, which will require it to reduce water consumption by 10%. Course managers should contact Aquarion’s Corporate Communications Department at (203) 336-7662 for details.

 

Where do I find the irrigation variance applications?
Variance applications are available here. If you need a printed copy, please call our Customer Service Center at 1-800- 732-9678.

 

Once I provide the necessary information and apply for a variance how long does it take before I receive my permit?

  • New Planting Variances – From 12 to 24 hours (between April 1 and June 16, and September 1 and October 31)
  • Large Property and High-Efficiency Variances – Wait times depend on the number of applications ahead of yours and your licensed contractor’s schedule. Once our irrigation assessors approve your system the permit will be emailed to you within days.
  • Golf Course Variances – Course managers should contact Aquarion’s Corporate Communications department at (203) 336-7662 to discuss the application process. Once approved, golf course variances can be process within two weeks.

 

Does Aquarion automatically renew variances (Large Property, High-Efficiency, and Golf Course) from year-to-year without reviewing them?
Each applicant’s property is reviewed for consumption data. Variance applications must meet the below criteria before an auto-renewal is considered for that year.

  • For Large Property and High-Efficiency applications, the Assessor performed an on- site assessment and approved the original application for a variance.
  • For Golf Courses, Corporate Communications had approved the application.
  • Property has met the consumption conservation requirement for the variance. (Large Properties are 15% savings. High-Efficiency are 20% savings. Gold Courses, which are already efficient, are 10% savings.)

Variance auto-renews are only within a three-year period from the date of the original application.

Note: This does not apply to New Planting Variances, which auto-approve for 5-weeks in the spring and fall planting seasons each year.

Irrigation Scheduling

Does Aquarion Water have the authority to make rules regarding the use of water?
Yes. The State of Connecticut, through the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, gives Aquarion the right to “restrict the use of water by any Customer or class of Customers when in the Company’s judgment such restriction is in the public interest.” * 
With clean, high-quality water so vital to the people everywhere, regulating its use is clearly in the public interest. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes, “The U.S. population has doubled over the past 50 years, while our thirst for water has tripled. With at least 40 states anticipating water shortages by 2024, the need to conserve water is critical…."
* Rules and Regulations. Aquarion Water Company. Section x – Water Conservation, Item 2

 

Why conserve water? Doesn’t Connecticut get enough rainfall?
Sometimes it does, but the frequency and quantity of it is much less reliable. We now tend to see intense storms followed by extended dry periods. Meanwhile, the demand for water has increased significantly. As our state’s population has grown, so has the size of homes and lawns. Many are equipped with automatic sprinkler irrigation systems that frequently waste water by over-irrigating the landscape. Given these issues, we need to manage our water resources more efficiently. It’s the only way to ensure there’s always enough everywhere to meet critical needs such as for drinking, dousing fires and maintaining healthy, natural flows in our state’s rivers and streams.

 

Is the two-day week mandatory irrigation schedule permanent?
Yes. Connecticut’s recent and very serious drought showed that avoiding waste is something that can’t wait until the rains stop coming. Besides, nothing as precious as water should ever be wasted. It’s the responsibility of everyone to use water wisely every day.

 

Why the focus on sprinkler irrigation?
Though sprinkler irrigation accounts for approximately 30% of total water use, it is considered a non-essential use. What’s more, much of the water used for irrigation is unnecessary – and could well harm your lawn and gardens. Watering less frequently encourages more and deeper root growth, and better resilience to droughts and disease.

 

Why is there no watering on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays?
Those are the days when water use is highest, which leads to major drops in reservoir levels on those days. We’ve designed the schedule to better balance the demand across the full week. 

 

Why is there no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the approved watering days?
Midday heat increases evaporation rates, so water is lost to the air before benefitting plants. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “…. Experts estimate that 50 percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.”

 

May I water on a different day then the days I’m scheduled for?
We ask that you please follow the schedule. The schedule is designed to spread out irrigation demands during the summer months to reduce the overall demand and peak demands. It’s not possible – or even fair – to accommodate individual requests. Plus, not following the schedule could subject you to penalties that include a shut-off of your household’s water. 

 

Is drip irrigation, a soaker hose or hand water also restricted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.?
We allow watering by these methods any time. But they’re best used during the early morning or nighttime hours. High evaporation rates during the heat of the day prevents water from soaking down to the roots to benefit plants. 

 

My address ends in an even number. When may I irrigate?
Water only on Sundays and Wednesdays before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. – and even then, only if watering is needed. Please keep in mind that the schedule only applies to automatic or in-ground irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers only. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand watering are permitted on any day.

 

My address ends in an odd number. When may I irrigate?
Water only on Saturdays and Tuesdays before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. – and even then, only if watering is needed. Please keep in mind that the schedule only applies to automatic or in-ground irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers only. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand watering are permitted on any day.

 

We don’t have a street number. When should we irrigate? 
At the same time as even-numbered addresses – on Sundays and Wednesdays before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. – and even then, only if watering is needed. Please keep in mind that the schedule only applies to automatic or in-ground irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers only. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand watering are permitted on any day.

 

My property has multiple addresses, so how do I know when to irrigate? 
Use the last digit of the lowest address number to establish your schedule. Please keep in mind that the schedule only applies to automatic or in-ground irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers only. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand watering are permitted on any day.

 

What does Aquarion do to ensure that people are following the two-day mandatory watering schedule?
We do this on many levels. First and foremost is education – explaining to people about waste and other problems with over-watering the landscape, including how it can harm lawns and gardens. You can download some excellent educational materials here.We also keep close watch on consumption so we can notify customers when their water usage suggests over-watering. In addition, we coordinate with state regulators and local governments to build compliance through announcements and local ordinances.

 

What is the penalty for violating the two-day mandatory irrigation schedule?
Aquarion recognizes that old habits die hard. So our main commitment is to educate the public about how they can use water more efficiently and sustainably. However, we can penalize violators, including shutting off their water, if their failure to follow the schedule impairs public resources. 

 

What should I do if I’m away and my system violates the irrigation schedule?
If your system is properly set to the schedule, it shouldn’t matter if you’re home or away. We will notify customers who seem to be irrigating using water outside of scheduled times, which gives them multiple opportunities to conform with the mandatory limits. All the major irrigation companies in the area are aware of the schedule and know how to program systems to follow it.
If you leave someone in charge of your home while you are away, please let them know how to contact your irrigation company should the system stop working properly, including if the power goes out. 

 

When can I wash my car or boat?
There are no limits on washing cars and boats. But we do ask that you avoid wasting water by;

  • Letting run-off water soak into the ground, and not onto pavement or into storm drains
  • Washing in the early morning to lessen water evaporation and the quantity you’ll need
  • Using an automatic shutoff nozzle on your hose to minimize waste.

 

Are irrigation rain sensors required by state law?
Yes, to reduce wasting water. For residences, Connecticut requires rain sensors on any system installed on or after July 1, 2010. For commercial properties, they’re required on systems installed on or after October 1, 2003.

 

Does the mandatory schedule apply to all customers, and every type of use? 
There are exceptions. These uses are automatically exempt from the schedule and don’t require a variance. They include:

  • Watering with drip irrigation, soaker hoses or hand-watering
  • Using water from a non-Aquarion source (though state and local regulations may not permit this)
  • Irrigating during the repair or testing of an automatic irrigation system 
  • Irrigating commercial nursery stock.

Other customers may apply here for variances to:

  • Establish new plantings 
  • Irrigate areas too large to water on a single day
  • Use high-efficiency systems programmed to water only when required by soil and weather conditions.

 

Our irrigation system is connected to our well. Do we still need to follow the watering schedule?
It depends. Your town may have an ordinance against using well water to irrigate your lawn. If you do use well water, keep in mind that it should be used efficiently as well. By following the schedule you can still have healthy lawns and gardens – and show your consideration for neighbors and others in your community. 

 

Is taking water from my backyard pond or brook to irrigate my lawn exempt from the restrictions?
This can cause serious consequences to natural water resources, including making them unpleasant to live around. We ask you to avoid this practice. Your town or the State may even prohibit against using water from brooks, ponds, lakes or other natural sources for irrigation. 

 

What is the most effective and efficient way to water my vegetable garden?
Experts recommend drip irrigation, soaker hoses or hand watering (which are exempt from the twice-weekly irrigation schedule.) 

 

If we’re irrigating with water other than from Aquarion, do we need to follow the irrigation schedule?
Your town may have an ordinance against using well water to irrigate your lawn. If you do use well water, keep in mind that it should be used efficiently as well. If you’re using trucked water, it needs to come outside the area where the schedule applies. Using collected rain water has no restrictions. However, by following the schedule with whatever water you use you can still have healthy lawns and gardens – and show your consideration for neighbors and others in your community. 

 

What will happen to my landscaping if I cut back watering to only twice a week?
Experts in horticulture have found that landscapes are healthiest with deep and infrequent watering. Even in the heat of summer, landscapes can thrive on only about one inch of water every five to ten days.


Over-watering not only wastes water, it discourages healthy root growth, making plants more susceptible to damage from extreme heat, freezing temperatures, pests, diseases and droughts. Native or adapted plants require less water. In fact, some perennial flowers can go weeks without supplemental watering.


Often a plant suffering only from temporary heat stress will look like it needs more water when it doesn’t. If a plant droops in the afternoon, check on it early the next morning. If it looks good, the plant is likely just reacting to heat. Watering won’t be necessary.


Check the soil, too. The surface may look dry, but a few inches below it may feel damp, showing that it has ample water. Checking soil moisture levels frequently will help you prevent needlessly drowning your landscape. You can also conserve soil moisture by laying down three to four inches of mulch around plantings.

 

Sustainable Planting and Tips
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and University of Connecticut's (UCONN) College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resource documents were developed by experts in the field. 

 

What is a Sustainable Landscape Design for Water Conservation?
To create resiliency and aesthetically pleasing landscapes while conserving water, improving the environment and saving money, the EPA recommends:

  • Native Plants: Choose regionally appropriate plants
  • Similar water needs: Group plants based on their water needs
  • Drip Irrigation: Install and utilize drip irrigation for plant / flower beds
  • Mulch: Utilize mulch wherever possible, on flower beds for example to limit the rate of evaporation from soil

 

For information about maintaining healthy lawns and gardens with less watering, please review the information factsheets for what applies to your situation:

WaterSense Water-Smart Landscapes
UCONN - Water Conservation in Connecticut Landscapes
UCONN - Water Conservation Practices: Landscape Irrigation
UCONN - Best Management Practices: Turfgrass Irrigation
Cultural Practices for Water Conservation: Landscape Plantings
Cultural Practices for Water Conservation: Turfgrass
Drought Tolerant Annuals and Perennials
Water Efficiency Management Guide Landscaping and Irrigation