Patrolling neighborhoods in search of residents violating the water ban cost the Columbia County Water and Sewer Services Department more than $9,000 in overtime since the even-odd restrictions began two months ago.
"That's $9,000 I'd rather not have to spend," Water Superintendent Billy Clayton said. "But being able to maintain the integrity of the system was worth that and more if needed."
In all, the department has paid $9,419 for 655 overtime hours logged by 21 employees. Water works is classified as a proprietary department -- one that is supported by the fees it collects, instead of a supplemented budget out of the county general fund.
"We didn't ride every day," Mr. Clayton said, adding that employees have only been sporadically checking neighborhoods since July 15.
"We are still monitoring on an as needed basis," he said.
Most of the overtime hours were logged during the weekends -- when water use is at its peak.
"Some of my employees didn't work very much and others worked a lot (of overtime hours)," Mr. Clayton said.
Mr. Clayton and Assistant Director of Water Services Mark Inglett are both paid on salary -- which means their check is the same, no matter how many hours they worked.
"It's OK," Mr. Clayton said. "You take the good with the bad. This is our extremely busy time."
Columbia County has been under and even/odd outdoor water use restrictions since May 28. Under the limitations, residents and businesses at even-numbered addresses can use water outdoors on even numbered days, while residents at odd-numbered addresses can water on odd-numbered days.
Since the restrictions started, residents water use has hovered between 16 million and 20 million gallons per day. Use crested at 30 million gallons during the July 11 weekend.
Mr. Clayton said residents should expect the water restrictions to continue through the remainder of the summer.
"Things are starting to dry out a good bit again," he said. "But the forecast still calls for a good chance of rain, and even a better chance through the weekend."
Before the ban is lifted, more rain will have to fall more often.
"We got a half-inch last Saturday and haven't seen any since," Mr. Clayton said.