Outdoor Water Use Restrictions

Below is a list of violations of the Mandatory Outdoor Water Use Restriction implemented on JUnen 18, 2018.  The Water Restriction By-law allows for the non-criminal disposition of violations starting with a written warning, second offense is a $50 fine, third offense is a $100 fine and fourth and subsequent offense a $300 fine.  Each day of violation constitutes a separate offense.  Because some watering is allowed we do not issue violations based on wet pavement or grass.  We must witness or a citizen willing to testify must witness the actual use of water that is in violation of the bylaw.  If the property owner appeals the violation or fails to pay the fine then the issue is forwarded to criminal court.

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.

Water Treatment Plant Information

The project is nearly complete and the plant is fully operational.  All that remains are punch list items such as loaming and seeding.  The plant started full operations on March 6, 2019.

Spring Hydrant Flushing

Flushing is scheduled to start on April 8th.  Click here to view the schedule.

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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