CT Irrigation Variance Programs

Responsible watering starts here

Aquarion offers 4 variance programs for customers in towns participating in irrigation conservation:

  1. New Planting Variance – Available for the spring and fall planting seasons
  2. Large Property Variance – Available to customers whose property is 2-acres or more and requires more irrigation than the mandatory schedule allows
  3. High-Efficiency Variance – Available to customers whose systems include an approved U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense® Weather-based controller running a schedule based on weather/site conditions in the weather-based function
  4. Golf Course Variance – Available to eligible golf courses 
In the participating towns (Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Newtown, Stamford, and Westport), licensed irrigation companies are aware of Aquarion’s Mandatory Twice-Weekly Irrigation Schedule and Irrigation Variance Programs and can help you decide which variance works best for you. The irrigation schedule is in effect from April 1 to October 31.

Customers can apply for a five-week variance for new plantings during spring and fall planting seasons. With an approved variance, customers can water outside of the mandatory irrigation schedule for five weeks before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm to limit evaporation. Customer can apply for one additional two-week extension, if needed. Simply fill out the application again for the extension.

New Planting Variance Application Form

The New Planting Variance program was designed for the spring and fall planting seasons and allows you to water for 5-weeks on any day before 10am and after 6pm.

Applications accepted:
April 1 to June 15 for the spring planting season
September 1 to October 31 for the fall planting season

New Planting Variances are not accepted between June 16 to August 31 as this is the hottest time of the summer and it is difficult to establish new sod or plants.

Once a New Planting variance is granted, you have the option to apply for a two-week extension during the two open periods by resubmitting your application; however, when the program is closed, or when rainfall levels remain below normal levels and/or demands are high, no extensions will be granted.

In planning your new landscaping, we urge you to consider:

  • Drought-tolerant plantings - The University of Connecticut (UConn) has published excellent factsheets on drought-tolerant annuals and perennials, along with conservation and best practices for turf grass irrigation.
  • Hand-watering - If you are only planting a few new shrubs or a new tree, consider watering with a soaker hose, hand watering or drip irrigation on any day without a variance.

Customers who meet the following criteria may apply for the Large Property Variance:

  • Properties two acres or larger
  • An efficient irrigation system installed / maintained by a professionally licensed irrigation contractor
  • Inability to effectively water the property within the mandatory twice-weekly schedule 

How to Apply for a Large Property Variance

  1. Fill out the Large Property Variance application.
  2. Upon receipt of the application, Aquarion will send you a confirmation email that will include variance requirements, including an Irrigation Evaluation Form. Aquarion recommends that you work with your licensed irrigation contractor to fill out the form. Aquarion requires the system information before the site assessment. This is so our irrigation assessment team can determine how much time your assessment should take. It also allows the assessment to be performed more quickly and efficiently by reducing questions about the type of controller, the number of zones, etc.
  3. Upon Aquarion’s receipt of your Irrigation Evaluation Form, the Aquarion Assessor will call your irrigation contractor to make an appointment for the site assessment. As homeowner, you are not required to be present during the assessment; however, the property’s licensed irrigation contractor must be present to address any system issues such as leaks, broken sprayers, etc.
  4. Upon approval, a Large Property Variance permit will be emailed to you, allowing you to water on any day before 10am and after 6pm.  Please display the permit where it can be seen from the street.
  5. If the site assessment does not facilitate an approval, Aquarion will offer recommendations to improve your irrigation system to meet conservation guidelines.

Please keep in mind:

  • A site assessment of your property’s irrigation system with the Aquarion Assessor and your licensed irrigation contractor in attendance is required.
  • You must commit to a 15% water savings when compared to your 2015 usage, the year before the drought.
  • Systems must be water efficient and in good working order to be approved for a Large Property Variance.
  • No matter the size of any property, anyone who waters outside the mandatory irrigation schedule without a variance will be in violation of the ordinance.

Once approved, a permit will be emailed to the applicant and the property can irrigate on any day before 10am and after 6pm. If for some reason, the property fails the on-site assessment, Aquarion will offer recommendations on how to improve the irrigation system’s water efficiency to meet conservation guidelines.

Large Property Variance Form

This variance program is available from April 1 to October 31.

Customers who meet the following criteria may apply for the High-Efficiency Variance:

  • Possess a high-efficiency irrigation system with an approved U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense® Weather-Based controller* that
    • runs a schedule based upon site and weather conditions; and is
    • installed/maintained by a professionally licensed irrigation contractor

*Please check for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense® Label to see if you have a weather-based irrigation controller before applying for this variance. More information is available here WaterSense® Weather-Based Controller List and here EPA Information on WaterSense® Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers.

Before receiving the High-Efficiency Variance, customers must fulfill the following requirements:

  • An on-site assessment of the irrigation system must be completed by the Aquarion Assessor with property’s licensed irrigation contractor in attendance
  • The EPA approved controller must run in a weather-based mode
  • The customer must commit to a 20% water savings when compared to their 2015 usage, the year before the drought.

How to Apply for a High-Efficiency Variance

  1. Fill out the High-Efficiency Variance application.
  2. Upon receipt of the application, Aquarion will send you a confirmation email that will include variance requirements, including an Irrigation Evaluation Form. Aquarion recommends that you work with your licensed irrigation contractor to fill out the form. Aquarion requires the system information before the site assessment. This is so our irrigation assessment team can determine how much time your assessment should take. It also allows the assessment to be performed more quickly and efficiently by reducing questions about the type of controller, the number of zones, etc.
  3. Upon Aquarion’s receipt of your Irrigation Evaluation Form, the Aquarion Assessor will work with your licensed irrigation contractor to schedule a property site assessment of the irrigation system. As homeowner, you are not required to be present during the assessment; however, the property’s licensed irrigation contractor must be present to address any system issues such as leaks, broken sprayers, etc.
  4. Upon approval, a High-Efficiency Variance permit will be emailed to you, allowing you to water outside the schedule in weather-based mode. Please display the permit where it can be seen from the street.
  5. If the site assessment does not facilitate an approval, Aquarion will offer recommendations to improve your irrigation system to meet conservation guidelines.

Once the High-Efficiency Variance has been approved, a permit will be emailed to the applicant and the property can water outside the mandatory irrigation schedule in weather-based mode.

Please keep in mind:

  • No matter how efficient your system is, anyone who waters outside the mandatory irrigation schedule without a variance will be in violation of the ordinance.

High-Efficiency Variance Form

This variance program is available from April 1 to October 31.

Please contact us for information about this program. Aquarion understands that golf course irrigation systems are efficient. Those golf courses that receive approval for this variance agree to a 10% savings month-to-month from their 2015 consumption, the year before the drought.

Irrigation Evaluation Form

If you need another copy of the Irrigation Evaluation Form, you can download it below. The form is also attached to your variance application confirmation email and must be filled out and returned to Aquarion before an on-site appointment can be made with the Aquarion Variance Assessor. Please see the Large Property and High-Efficiency section for further details.