Macomb Township approves ad campaign for water programming

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 25, 2021

 Earlier this month, Macomb Township approved a $50,000 water ordinance and sprinkler programming advertising campaign. It is designed to avoid going over the peak water usage in the township.

Earlier this month, Macomb Township approved a $50,000 water ordinance and sprinkler programming advertising campaign. It is designed to avoid going over the peak water usage in the township.

File photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Township residents can soon expect to receive information on free sprinkler system programming, coming in the mail.

At the May 12 Board of Trustees meeting, Supervisor Frank Viviano brought forward an idea for the township to have a $50,000 water ordinance and sprinkler programming advertising campaign.

In the board meeting packet, Viviano writes, “this is a pilot program designed to avoid going over the peak water usage in the township.”

He suggests the township offer a free service to residents to have a contractor program their sprinkler systems to meet the ordinance requirements.

“Many residents have sprinklers installed and do not know how to change the settings,” Viviano writes.

The board unanimously approved the campaign. The $50,000 cost includes hiring a contractor to assist residents with irrigation system programming and the design and printing of a 9x12 flyer mailed to every residential water customer in Macomb Township.

He said the rate the township was given was $55 per visit, to program a sprinkler system. Funds are coming from the township’s water and sewer budget.

The township implements a mandatory odd/even lawn watering restriction, effective May 15 through Oct. 15.

Residents with an address ending in an odd number are to water on odd calendar days, and those with an address ending in an even number are to water on even calendar days. Automatic lawn and/or landscaping irrigation is prohibited between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“Internally, we determined that not only would the advertising campaign offer the service, which I think will be beneficial to a small, select group of residents who choose to call us, but the bigger impact is every household is going to get our flyer in the mail,” Vivinao said.

Treasure Leon Drolet said that, if the township can do a better job of making residents aware of the ordinance and keeping rates low, the township might be able to save a lot of money.

“We would print and mail flyers to residents about the ordinance, a little more visually impactful than a sentence written on the back of the water bills that we currently have,” he said. “The service would be to reprogram their sprinkler system.”

Viviano said that exceeding the daily “peak hours” water usage established between the Great Lakes Water Authority and a local municipality can be very costly to the municipality.

Clerk Kristi Pozzi said that, in 2018, a few ideas were rolled out to educate residents on the ordinance.

“We saw a reduction in our peak hours with just putting a minimal amount of effort into education,” she said.

Pozzi added that a campaign like this should work and applauded the effort put into this program.

Viviano said, in Shelby Township, the allocated peak daily usage was exceeded in 2020, leaving them faced with a water rate increase of over 18%.

“To address that increase, Shelby Township has approved construction of a water tank at a cost of up to $12 million,” he said.

Prior to the meeting, Drolet said that, to the township’s knowledge, no other community in the U.S. offers this type of program.

About the campaign, resident Paul Ruggeri said the township has had a water ordinance program for five years.

“If people don’t know they’re not supposed to water their lawn during the day, they’re never going to change,” he said. “I tell my neighbor all the time, and they don’t care — they don’t change.”

He called the contract a total waste of money and that it should be put toward covering some water bills.

To schedule the service, or get more information, Macomb Township residents should call the Macomb Township Water and Sewer Department at (586) 218-5950 or email at sprinklers@macomb-mi.gov.

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