By Devin McGinley
The Wyckoff Township Committee is considering an amendment to its water restriction ordinance.
Proposed revisions modify the punishment that the utility sought to dole out to repeat violators of restrictions. There remains, however, legal questions as to how far Wyckoff authorities can go.
The ordinance would adopt Ridgewood's proposed restrictions, which at the current “moderate” drought condition confine watering for odd numbered addresses to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and even numbered addresses to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Handheld hose watering is permitted any day, including Monday.
According to the ordinance, watering could be prohibited on additional days as conditions require.
But the committee axed some of the more severe penalties for violating those restrictions, keeping the fine for offenders at $50 and removing a shut off provision for repeat violators.
Wyckoff police are responsible for enforcing the restrictions and notifying the utility of violations, but only the utility would take the step of shutting off water to repeat offenders.
The township code currently states that fines up to $500 can be levied against offenders and that the utility can shut off water for repeated violations, but it’s unclear how many times, if at all, that has happened. Ridgewood Water officials did not respond to requests for comment as of Thursday afternoon.
According to Wyckoff police, a knock on the door has usually sufficed when they find a homeowner using a sprinkler on a prohibited day.
“Typically the first thing we do is give [violators] a warning,” Wyckoff Police Sgt. Joseph Soto said. “Most of the time they don’t even know about the restrictions.”
Committee members removed the shut off provision after raising concerns that shutting off water could make a residence uninhabitable and pose a health risk, especially during the summer months.
Reached Thursday, Ridgewood Village attorney Matt Rogers declined to comment on whether the township had the legal power to prohibit the utility from shutting off a water supply, saying that officials have not yet discussed the Wyckoff ordinance.
“There really isn’t anything as yet decided,” he said.
Ridgewood Water, which serves Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park and Glen Rock, has reason for pushing for cooperation with the restrictions. The utility has been heavily fined in recent years by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for exceeding its allocated water supply.
The Wyckoff Township Committee will vote on the modified ordinance at its Aug. 20 meeting.