As Odessa’s water supply dries up, residents all over the area are paying attention to the city’s stringent water restrictions that went in to effect April 1.
I now count myself among the outlaws — since the water cops cited me about a month ago. Yes, I came home in the morning to find a warning taped on my door, accusing me of sending thousands of gallons of water out into the gutters.
A few days later, I got letter via certified mail from the Community Development Department at the City of Odessa. They spent more than $10 to send the letter, so I knew it was serious.
Apparently a busted sprinkler head was the culprit — but I challenge the assertion that that one sent thousands of precious water into the street.
Yet that morning, and on many early mornings, I have witnessed tanker trucks at the end of my block, where those thousands of gallons were to have pooled. I have seen these trucks in the dark of the early morning, hooking hoses up to the fire hydrants, apparently pulling water out of them.
On this particular morning I saw the truck at the end of the street when I headed off to work, just before 7 a.m. The city issues construction companies valves that read the water as it comes out of the hydrants and the companies pay for this. Who knew?
On this morning there was plenty of water sloshing out of the back of the truck. What I believe, is that they left a sizeable puddle and what came from my broken sprinkler head traversed down the gutter and mixed with that — making for an even larger puddle. In the end, the water cop surmised that my one sprinkler was to blame.
But city officials were understanding. I signed the warning with the caveat that if I got caught again there would be no warning; it would be a summons or a citation for a nuisance violation, which carries fines of up to $500 for three or more violations. Oops. To make sure, I turned off the sprinkler.
The new water restrictions say that we can only water two hours a week – on Tuesdays for even number addresses and on Thursdays for odd numbered addresses, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. only. What do I water: the trees, the grass or my potted plants? Well, you can only use a water hose with a positive shutoff nozzle.
According to city officials here, if you are caught using any “illegal” watering device, you could be slapped with a drought contingency violation, which is a class C misdemeanor and carries up to a $2,000 fine.
Remember, you can’t wash your car at the house (commercial car washes are fine). You can’t be hosing down the driveway or filling up your ponds with city water. Plus if you have a pool, you’ve got to call a city official to witness you filling it up with another outside water source.
And, don’t expect your waiter or waitress to bring you a glass of water at a restaurant without asking for it first.
The good news? City spokeswoman Andrea Goodson said most residents are complying and water use is down about five million gallons daily – from this time last year.
“Overall most people are really paying attention,” Goodson said. “But we have people that have let it go all the way to a warrant.”
Are you willing to go to jail for a water violation? I know I’m not.