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News from Town Manager/Board of Selectmen

Posted on: April 5, 2017

Press Release - Outdoor Water Usage

Press Release
Needham Board of Selectmen
March 28, 2017

As Spring begins, and with it, increased outdoor water use, the Board of Selectmen is issuing this statement to provide information to the public and encourage conservation and careful use of water by residents.


Drought conditions prevailed in most of Massachusetts during 2016.  Notwithstanding rain and snow over the winter, the Town remains under a drought advisory because of very low rainfall last year. 

The Town is required by the State to continue to limit outdoor water use to one day per week. But that limit does not by itself assure reduced water use.  

During the summer of 2016, even while complying with the one day per week limit, a significant number of Needham homeowners used more total outdoor water than the year before.  

At the end of the 2016 summer season, the Town received a number of resident inquiries about unexpectedly high water bills. Although every household’s situation is different, in the overwhelming majority of cases that the Town reviewed, the higher charges resulted from increased outdoor water use by the homeowner. 

With low rainfall, it is expected that many residents will use more water outdoors for lawns and other irrigation than during wetter years. Needham’s water billing rates are based on usage, with higher per cubic foot charges for higher volume users. That increasing block rate system is based on State regulations intended to promote conservation.  It is also necessary to fully recover the cost of additional water purchases by the Town from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) during the summer months. 

The State’s long-term environmental goal is to reduce household water use to 65 gallons (approximately 8.6 cubic feet) per person per day over the course of the year.  Needham’s residential use has been above that level for many years, and outdoor water use is a principal contributor.  

The Town believes the majority of residences using more than the 65 gallon goal have reasonable options to reduce that amount, particularly in the area of outdoor use. 

The Town is required by law to comply with the State policy, and strives to assure a safe, adequate water supply for all residents. The Town’s rate and water management policies are part of that effort. 

It is hoped that this information is helpful. For any question or concern about this subject, including questions about your own water bill, please contact the Department of Public Works at 781-455-7550 extension 306.

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