Cities Cracking Down on Water Restriction Violators

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

It's one of the worst droughts we've ever seen and now more than ever, city officials are stepping up enforcement and cracking down on water wasters.

It seems by now everyone would or should know about the tough water restrictions in the Basin but that's not the case in Big Spring and Midland.

Now, code enforcement officers are hoping the message gets across soon before we get a rude awakening.

"It is strict and it is inconvenient in some areas, but we really feel like we have to do it to conserve what water we do have," Big Spring Code Enforcement Officer, Chad Averette, said.

That's because the water we do have is drying up fast. Averette said the levels at Lake Spence are dwindling.

"There's no water left," Averette said. "It's just really eye-opening to see just how little water is in that lake and that's the lake that we used to get all our water from. Now everyone is pulling out of Ivey."

Right now, Big Spring has the toughest restrictions in the Basin. They're down to just one day of watering.

Thursday was the first day of handing out tickets to water violators.

"Thursday morning, we issued 22 citations and we issued another three last night," Averette said.

Repeat offenders could get slapped with hefty fines all the way up to $2,000.

"We are going to be issuing fines that are noticeable so that people understand we are in a dire situation," he said.

Steve Thorpe with the City of Midland said they've only issued a few citations in the last week. However, they have issued plenty of warnings.

"We're trying to educate people and get them to comply, not give them citations and take money out of their pockets," Thorpe said. "On warnings, we're probably approaching 100 between code enforcement and police department."

Police in both cities are helping in the effort. Thorpe said some residents have unfortunately dodged a fine.

"We've had a couple situations where we wanted to write citations, people were entitled to citations but we came up and no one was home or answering the door," he said.

Both Averette and Thorpe said residents should be well aware by now of the situation. They hope residents realize just how serious it is before it's too late.

"You don't ever think that there could be a day where you turn on your faucet and water doesn't come out of it," Averette said.

"Those that are choosing to violate the rules for their own well-being are just going to hurt us all long term," Thorpe said.

Both code enforcement officers tell residents to save water, make sure you're using a watering can when you water trees and plants.

They also advise shutting off your sprinkler systems from automatic to manual that way you don't waste any water unknowingly.