Water inspectors cracking down on violators

SACRAMENTO - Some scientists are already predicting this could be California's driest year in the last 500 years. As a result, cities across the state, including Sacramento, have put into place water conservation ordinances.

Within Sacramento, the city has received more than 5,500 water use complaints this year, 16 times more than the same period last year. Sacramento's water conservation team has issued more than 1,600 citations.

With fire dangers rising and water supplies dwindling, Steve Upton's job as one of Sacramento's water conservation representatives is more important than ever.

"We're not trying to be the hammer, but if we need to be, we will be," Upton said making the rounds Wednesday looking for violators.

You can still water your lawn in Sacramento. If you have an odd numbered address, your days are Tuesdays and Saturdays. If you have an even numbered address, your days are Wednesdays and Sundays. But you can only water before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m., otherwise, you may get a visit.

One homeowner in Natomas received his first written warning Wednesday. He won't have to pay a fine, but his next violation will cost $50. After that, fines can go as high as $1,000. If you do get a $50 fine for a second violation, you can get it waved by attending a conservation class. However, your next violation will cost $200. Fortunately, city officials said, they haven't issued any of those yet.

Sometimes, in between checking out reported violations, inspectors can catch people in the act, like homeowner Keith Kirk, whom Upton found watering on the right day, but at the wrong time.

"I just came out and put that on, just five minutes," Kirk explained before Upton offered to set his timer for him.

In this case, even five minutes of watering could have been too long because of the steep grade of the front lawn. Runoff into the gutters is also a violation, so it's important to learn how to set your home's timer.


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