Lincoln police were tired of giving warnings to violators of the city's drought-related water restrictions. So officers began issuing tickets Monday, and by noon they had written an estimated 80 citations.
“We've been very, very patient with people, and we've heard every excuse imaginable,” said Public Safety Director Tom Casady.
The mandatory restrictions were imposed Aug. 9.
Some people given warnings since then said they didn't know how to program their sprinklers. Some claimed that they were unaware of the restrictions. Some had difficulty distinguishing whether their addresses were odd- or even-numbered.
And some blamed family members for the violations. “It seems like husbands are taking the brunt of that,” Casady said.
Lincoln police received 207 calls from the public Monday about violations of the water restrictions. Casady estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of those calls would result in tickets.
Monday is the only no-watering day, so its number of citations probably will be highest, said Casady, who expects 20 to 30 tickets to be issued on each of the other days of the week.
The city warned residents Sunday that it planned to start issuing tickets. Violators face fines of up to $500 and jail sentences of to up to six months.
Jerry Obrist, chief engineer of waterworks for the Lincoln Water System, said water use has dropped to about 58 million gallons a day on average. Obrist would like to see that number closer to 55 million gallons a day. He suggested that people let their lawns go dormant.
City officials will meet Thursday to discuss whether to further limit water use, perhaps to two days a week rather than the three, Obrist said.
Until then, Casady wants more people to have conservation in mind when watering. “It may be legal, but I don't think it's being a very good neighbor to be using an excessive amount of water in this situation,” he said.
And if good citizenship isn't a motivating factor, the almighty dollar could be.
“I have a feeling there's going to be some real sticker shock” when people see their water bills, Casady said.
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