Irrigation Systems & Watering Schedules
The Piedmont climate usually provides enough rain during the year to support landscapes that contain native flowers, shrubs and trees. These types of Water Wise landscapes can even flourish during dry conditions. Sometimes a more reliable supply than Mother Nature is needed for more extensive plantings and some grasses. Many customers choose to install an in-ground irrigation system to provide this back- up supply for their landscapes.
Irrigation System Requirements
In 2009, state drought legislation required all new in-ground irrigation systems to have a separate water meter installed. You may read House Bill 2499 (PDF) for more information. One of the reasons for the adoption of this legislation is to help determine how much drinking water is actually being used for non-potable reasons. But, in most municipalities including Durham, there can be significant cost savings for customers because instead of paying for sewer charges on the amount of water used, customers pay the water only charges.
These charges are set at a higher rate for irrigation accounts (tier 5) but there are no sewer service or consumption charges applied.
The following links to municipal and state resources provide answers and information for setting up and maintaining a compliant irrigation system:
- Definition of "irrigation system" (PDF)
- NC Plumbing Code 608.16.5 - Connections to Lawn Irrigation Systems
- NC Plumbing Code 608.16.6 - Connections Subject to Backpressure
- Get a backflow permit and plumbing permit
- Backflow Preventer Permit Application for licensed plumbing contractors
- Requirements for separate water meters
- NC licensing regulations for contractors
- NC Plumbing Code for reduced pressure type backflow assemblies
- Submit certified backflow test results here
- Permit holder NC inspection requirements
- City of Durham Departmental FAQs
Customers should contact Engineering Services in Public Works to apply to have a meter set. The installation also requires that an approved backflow preventer (BFP) assembly be installed to protect the city and the customer from cross-connections. This installation must be inspected prior to being placed into service and the BFP assembly must be tested annually to ensure it is in proper working order.
In 2009 the city enacted a year-round water efficiency ordinance designed to reduce the demand on the water supply and to encourage a reduction in various forms of water waste. For example, water used for irrigation and watering is often difficult to account for whether utilizing an in-ground irrigation system or watering with a sprinkler and hose. In order to better manage the city's water supply, especially during peak demand periods of the year, the city has an odd/even watering schedule for water customers to follow.
Temporary Watering License
If you need to reseed or re-sod your property, or if you are installing any new landscaping, the city offers a Temporary Outdoor Watering License (PDF). This allows water customers to irrigate outside of their regular watering schedule for a period of 45 days. The license is free of charge.