Outdoor Water Use Restrictions

mansignThe Topsfield Water Department has implemented a Mandatory Outdoor Water Use Restriction effective August 10, 2017 due to very low Ipswich River stream flow.

Outdoor water use is restricted to hand-held implements only before 9 AM and after 5 PM.  The use of irrigations systems at any time is prohibited.  The restrictions apply to public water customers and private well owners.

In addition to curtailing outdoor use the Water Department encourages the following conservation measures:

  • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when full.
  • Fix any leaks around the house.
  • Install water efficient toilets, faucets and shower heads.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, rather than running the faucet.
  • Consider replacing water intensive lawns with a xeriscape (low water demand) flower garden.

The mandatory restrictions will be in effect until further notice but typically run through the end of September.  Our water withdrawal permit issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection requires the implementation of this restriction when Ipsich River average daily flow at the Ipswich Gauge Station falls below 52.5 cubic feet per second for three consecutive days.


streamflow chart

MassDEP requires that outdoor water use restrictions be implemented when Ipswich River streamflow drops below certain trigger points.  The aim of the restrictions is to reduce water consumption during periods of low streamflow, making more water available to sustain fish and aquatic life.  MassDEP is able to require this by adding special conditions to the Town's water withdrawal permit. Many communities in the Ipswich River basin have the same or similar restrictions.

The restrictions are not required throughout the year, only May 1st through Septmeber 30th depending on streamflow levels.  Restrictions implemented due to low streamflow apply to all water users, including public water customers and private well owners.  During the last permit review, MassDEP added a condition that required either the restrictions we currently have apply to everyone or more stringent restrictions would apply to public water customers.  Town Meeting voted to include private wells in the stream flow based restrictions in May 2006 and the bylaw was approved by the Attorney General the same year.

The need for the restrictions is based on flow measurments taken at a gauge station located just downstream of the dam near Foote Brother's Canoe.  The gauge has been in use since 1930 so there are many years worth of historical data.  We've compiled a graph that shows the current average daily flow, historical flow information and the restriction trigger points.  The chart is updated automatically when the flow data is published by USGS.  Looking back through the historical record for the gauge, there is only one year since 1930 that would not have required a mandatory restriction.  They typically start around July 1st and end in late September or early October.  The mandatory restrictions began very early in 2015 and 2016 due to the drought.

Mandatory Outdoor Water Restriction

A mandatory outdoor water restriction is in effect. Nonessential outdoor use is limited to hand-held implements before 9 AM or after 5 PM each day.  The use of irrigation systems or lawn sprinklers is prohibited.

Manganese Advisory

The Water Department issued a manganese advisory on November 1, 2013.  Monthly test results are available our water quality site.

The Perkins Row well exceeded MassDEP's limit of 0.3 milligrams per Liter during the summer of 2016.  Both water sources are now below State manganese limit.  The advisory will remain in place until the treatment plant is built and in operation.

Water Treatment Plant Information

A Special Town Meeting held on June 20, 2017 approved $10.4 million for the construction of a water treatment facility.  We expect construction to begin during the summer of 2017 and for the plant to open in the fall of 2018.

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Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


978.887.1543 (Fax)

911 -  After Hours Emergency

Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 3:30 PM

Highway Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


978.887.1543 (Fax)

Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 3 PM