Water police crack down

If you find a pink slip taped to your front door, you better pay attention.

About 700 Columbia County water customers have been cited in recent weeks for violating water restrictions.

"There shouldn't be as many as we're catching," Waterworks Director Bill Clayton said. "It's getting to the point now that it's hard to understand."

As Georgia enters the fourth year of state-mandated watering restrictions, most residents should be aware of the rules, he said.

But violators are everywhere.

"We just ride around, evenings, nights, all the time," Mr. Clayton said. "We get a lot of them in the early, early mornings, too."

So far, the fluorescent warning tickets are helping. Soon, the most blatant repeat offenders might get their next notice -- a $100 fine -- inside their monthly water bill.

"We haven't gotten to that point yet, but it may be coming," Mr. Clayton said.

Columbia County's water department serves about 38,000 households and businesses, which means the 700 warnings make up less than 2 percent.

"You get one strike," Mr. Clayton said. "After that, we have to assume that you know."

Augusta officials also are watching for violators.

The city's 185,000 water customers use about 40 million gallons each day, with late-summer consumption peaking near 60 million gallons a day.

Drew Goins, the assistant director for water production, has said usage is already 10 percent to 15 percent above normal for this time of year.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

WHEN TO WATER

In Columbia and Richmond counties, which are under Level Two restrictions, watering is allowed from midnight to 10 a.m. based on street address. No watering is allowed on Mondays.

ODD-NUMBERED ADDRESSES: Water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

EVEN-NUMBERED ADDRESSES: Water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

There are no water restrictions in South Carolina's Aiken, Edgefield, Barnwell and McCormick counties.