Water your lawn while the sun is down

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 16, 2018

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TROY — Did you know that restricting the use of underground irrigation systems to non-peak hours saves money on your water bill? 

The city of Troy, through its contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, receives a lower water rate by ensuring that water usage stays under designated thresholds during peak usage times. 

In 2008, the city secured a lower rate structure for water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department based on restricting underground sprinkler usage during peak times.

The Great Lakes Water Authority board approved a 40-year deal between Detroit and Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties two years ago under which county municipal water customers became customers of the GLWA. 

Paul Trosper, the water and sewer manager for the city of Troy, said that water usage peaks between 5 and 7:30 a.m. “That’s when the most people use the most water,” he said. 

City ordinance stipulates that outdoor watering by an underground irrigation system, including for lawns and landscaping, shall only be done between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

The use of garden hoses and hand watering are not restricted to those times. 

Trosper said that last summer, on a “very hot day, we came close” to shooting over the water use contract rates. 

Violation of the city ordinance could technically result in a municipal civil infraction. 

Fines for municipal infractions are $65 for the first offense within a three-year period, $250 for a second offense within three years and $500 for a third offense within three years.

Kurt Bovensiep, public works director, said that while some residents and business owners report properties where watering is being done outside the designated times, “it’s really more the Eyes and Ears program” that informs the city of violations. 

City employees in the Code Enforcement, Assessing, Public Works and Building departments make up the Eyes and Ears of the Community initiative. 

As part of the initiative, police train city employees on suspicious things to look for and on crime trends in specific neighborhoods, and they provide descriptions of vehicles suspected in crimes. 

Trosper said the goal is education about the outdoor water use restrictions. 

“If someone notices somebody watering during the restricted time, they will stop in and talk about the city water ordinance,” Trosper said. “A lot of times, they don’t realize it’s a violation.” 

“Our goal is always to get compliance,” said Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm. “I am not aware that any violations have been issued.”