Cape cracks down on water violators
The city of Cape Coral is serious about enforcement of its Stage I water shortage restrictions. So much so that it’s getting an assist from utility personnel to help in the enforcement.
These utility workers are going around during the overnight hours to ensure that the watering ban is being followed, checking homes to see that residents are watering their lawns at the days and times they are allowed to.
So far, these water deputies have been ringing up residences that are violating the restrictions.
More than 60 of these workers have been “deputized” by City Manager John Szerlag.
“It’s an authority provided to the city manager in our city ordinance regarding an emergency water conservation plan. He has the authority to delegate watering restrictions to other staff,” city spokesperson Connie Barron said.
Utility workers are on patrol between midnight and 8 a.m. because that’s when much of the watering is taking place and when most of the violations occur Barron said. If they see a violation, they provide the information to the code office, which then will issue the citation.
Barron said she would not know the total citations issued and fines collected until early next week.
The workers on patrol are paid overtime, which is paid for from the water and utilities fund. The cost is anticipated an annual basis, although it’s not built into the budget. No General Fund tax dollars are used.
The city issued a state of emergency last week in response to the dearth of rain the city has received since last rainy season. It is the first time such a watering schedule has been put into place in the city since dual watering began.
Barron said the city will start pumping water in from a reservoir in Punta Gorda in the coming days, which she hopes will help replenish the canal system.
“We don’t anticipate lifting the one-day watering restrictions for another week or two,” Barron said. “We need to see a trend upward, not just a one-day blip like we had over the weekend, before we rescind the one-day rules.”
City residents must follow a strict one-day-a-week watering schedule, which is based on the last number of your street address, or face penalties.
The first violation is a warning, but a second is a $100 fine, the next is $200 and a fourth fine is $400 and subject to disconnection from the irrigation system, which would cost another $80 to reconnect.
For more information on Stage I water restrictions, visit the city’s website, capecoral.net