Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to institute a voluntary ban in order to show the Department of Environmental Protection that it is trying to meet the agency’s water conservation requirements. However, the board rejected the idea of using a mandatory ban to meet the DEP’s requirement that Duxbury lower its per capita water usage from 82 gallons per day to 65 gallons.

“I can’t support a mandatory ban … to satisfy some arbitrary state mandate,” said Selectmen Chairman Betsy Sullivan. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”

Sullivan said she felt that to approve a mandatory watering ban was to submit to the DEP’s “bullying.”

The voluntary ban began June 1 and will end Sept. 1. It follows the usual summer water ban rules: odd numbered houses are restricted to watering on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and even numbered homes are restricted to watering on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with watering allowed on Sundays. Watering must take place between 5-8 a.m.

Since the ban is voluntary, there are no fines associated with it. A mandatory ban carries a $50 for the first offense and $100 for each subsequent offense with the water department issuing tickets.

Town Manager Richard MacDonald said selectmen have ordered voluntary water bans for the past five years and that they have worked well during the peak times in the summer to take pressure off the town’s wells and pumps.

“People have responded and it has helped us out greatly,” said MacDonald.

Three weeks ago Water Department Superintendent Paul Anderson told selectmen he felt that a mandatory outdoor watering ban would show a good faith effort to meet DEP’s goals despite an abundant water supply in the town’s underground aquifer. He has long been arguing Duxbury’s position with the DEP, but felt the town should take some action on water conservation in order to avoid possible fines.

Anderson did not think the voluntary watering ban would sit well with the DEP, as the town has had such a ban for the past five summers and has failed to meet the state’s goals. However, Anderson said that while the DEP has threatened to fine towns that don’t conform to its rules, it has never done so.

According to Water Advisory Board Chairman George Wadsworth, it rains an average of 24 billion gallons a year in Duxbury. By comparison, the town pumped out 510 million gallons to water customers in 2008. Duxbury’s water usage is very stable from month to month, with the exception of higher summer usage, when it rises by almost 25 percent, he said.

Wadsworth said a mandatory water ban will help the town with wear and tear on its pumps and facilities during peak demand but it will not conserve water.

“I see this not as an environmental issue but as a political issue,” he added.

The selectmen agreed and said they would contact their local legislators for help in their fight against DEP’s water conservation requirements.

In other business, selectmen...

• Voted unanimously to name the north baseball field behind the Tarkiln Community Center the “Ralph Sarro Field.”  Sarro, who died earlier this year, was a founding member of Duxbury’s youth baseball and was involved with it as a coach for many years. The north field is on the left.

• Agreed to send a copy of the Duxbury beach lease to town counsel for his review after a new clause was inserting asking the town to pay more than the $400,000 lease if the costs of managing the leased portion of the beach ever amount to more than the payments during a given year. The new lease also says that if the costs are less than the $400,000, the beach’s owners, the Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc., will roll over the unused balance into the next year. The Reservation has obtained a line of credit from a local bank in order to meet the costs of a major storm event on the beach.

• Granted a class II auto license to Susan Donovan doing business as Duxbury Auto Sales out of an office at 282  Saint George Street. There will be no cars sold or displayed on the premises, said Donovan, who is a car finder.

• Learned that general contractor bids for the Percy Walker pool renovation project are due June 26. Plans have been scaled back so the project comes in under budget.

• Were informed by Town Manager Richard MacDonald that he plans to appoint a crematory design study committee in order to bring forth an article for a new crematory at the 2010 annual town meeting. This year, voters approved $80,000 for plans.

• Learned about the 2009 road paving list, which includes Hall’s Corner, Josselyn Avenue, Old Toby Garden Street, a portion of Myrtle Street, Winter Street, Elderberry Lane, Bay Road from Hall’s Corner to Mullins Avenue, Woodridge Lane and Franklin Street from Route 53 to the Pembroke line.

• Re-appointed Brendan Keohane as the Housing Authority representative to the Community Preservation Committee and Tony Kelso to the CPC as a member-at-large.

• Appointed Robert Mustard to the Design Review Board and Michael Gray as an alternate.

• Appointed Andre Martecchini as the selectmen’s designee to the Local Housing Partnership, the South Shore Coalition and the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

• Appointed Josh Cutler as the planning board’s representative to the South Shore Coalition.