DALLAS – Homeowners said Dallas Water Utilities is publicly shaming citizens by sticking signs which read “Oops Water Violation” in hundreds of front lawns over the last couple months.
"I thought it was kind of comical they would stick a sign in my front yard saying I violated policy,” said Ryan Hager, Dallas homeowner.
Without any rain recently, he relies on his sprinklers to keep his St. Augustine turf alive.
"Yeah, I got the sign and then a couple days later I got a code compliance letter in the mail letting me know that I was watering on prohibited days,” added Hager.
There was no fine. Just a sign and that warning letter.
"I think it's kind of unnecessary. They're almost publicly shaming people,” Hager continued.
Dallas is not in a drought, according to the National Weather Service, and the city does not publicly single out people for other code or municipal violations such as tall grass, obstructing an alley, much less a traffic ticket.
"It's not only telling the homeowner, but it's also telling everybody else in the neighborhood, passersby, the mailman, or whoever [that] this person did wrong. I think it's despicable,” said Sarah Krolczyk, one of Hager’s neighbors.
Dallas Water Utilities rejected WFAA’s request for an interview. Through a city spokesman, the water department called this a “customer engagement initiative” that city council approved in 2015.
“It’s a warning only, just to raise awareness,” said Richard Hill, City of Dallas spokesman.
On average, city hall said, outdoor watering accounts for about 30-percent of Dallas’ total annual water use.
The violation signs began appearing August 1 and end on September 30, Hill said. In August alone, 751 people got notices of violation and most of them also got signs in their front yard.
Dallas Water Utilities pays for the signs and Code Enforcement puts them out.
If it was meant to raise awareness, Hager said it is effective in getting people talking but has not generated the kind of reactions city hall might have hoped for.