Cities differ on enforcing Stage 3 watering limits

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on October 28, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 28 at 5:41 PM

Lake Lavon is in bad shape. The lake's normal level is 492 feet. Right now, it's at 479 feet and dropping.

A loss of just 10 more feet would eliminate Lavon as a water source for the North Texas Municipal Water District.

The district serves 1.5 million people in cities like Frisco, Plano, Mesquite, Garland, McKinney and Allen. With Lake Lavon so low, Stage 3 water restrictions will take effect next week.

Water on the wrong day in Allen, and you'll pay the $200 fine on the first offense — with no warnings.

Under Stage 3 restrictions, lawn watering is permitted only twice a month on designated days, and Allen is prepared to make sure the rules are followed.

"We've trained and sworn by the court, 45 city employees that will have the capability to go out and enforce water use restrictions," said Allen Community Services director Steve Massey.

Those employees will rove the city around the clock, looking for violators. The more violations a homeowner incurs, the higher the fines, which range from $200 for the first offense to $2,000 for multiple violations.

"The lake levels are drastically low, and we want to make sure we send a message that we need to conserve as much water as we can," said Arturo Garza, Allen's water department superintendent.

Garland, McKinney, Plano, Richardson and Mesquite will hand out warnings to customers who water on the wrong days.

Frisco will go one step further: If they find violators who aren't home, they'll turn their water off.

"In the 2006 drought, we saved an estimated 3.1 billion gallons of water by doing that," said Frisco public works director Gary Hartwell. "We turned off more than 7,000 sprinkler systems."

City leaders say the images at drought-stricken Lake Lavon are proof of the need to conserve. They told us when their main source of water is half-empty, it's time to get serious.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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