The day of reckoning has come for those in Augusta who water their lawns religiously.
In response to a statewide mandate and growing drought concern, the Augusta Commission reinstituted mandatory water restrictions Tuesday for Richmond County residents and businesses.
"We need to be in compliance," said Max Hicks, the director of Augusta's Utilities Department.
Tuesday's decision prohibits Richmond County residents and businesses from watering on Mondays. Those at even addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and those at odd addresses may water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Mr. Hicks said his office will notify customers of the change and warn those who do not abide by the requirements before taking action against them. But if someone continues to break the restriction after ample warning, he said, the customer's water will be turned off and $25 will be charged to restore service.
The city's conservation plan is different from the state's, which calls for no watering on Fridays. However, commissioners favored keeping Augusta's current restrictions, which had been voluntary until Tuesday.
"It gives you autonomy," said Commissioner Andy Cheek, adding that the city's plan has worked in the past.
Mr. Hicks told commissioners that the county can have a different conservation plan from the state's because it accomplishes the same goal.
He also said that there is a provision in the city's plan that allows watering every day for the first 30 days of the conservation plan for those with newly planted grass, as in the case of new construction. An application, however, must be filed with his office and an inspection conducted.
Last year, the Augusta area received 25.4 inches of rain through June, according to the National Weather Service. However, so far this year only 12.5 inches of rainfall - 6.8 inches below normal - has been recorded, said Van Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.
"It's been pretty dry going back to late last year," he said.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.