"We've gone to issuing letters, telling people we will turn off their water if there are repeat violations," said Drew Goins, Augusta's assistant utilities director for water production.
Most people are complying with the restrictions on outdoor watering, he said, but for those who don't, action will be taken after repeated verbal and written warnings.
First offenders are given a "door knocker" warning, which could either be oral or written, he said. Then letters are mailed to repeat offenders with a warning that if their service is stopped, they will have to pay a $25 fee for reconnection.
So far, 10 violators have received those letters and could face disconnection if they are caught again.
"It's sort of like the 'three strikes and you're out' rule," Mr. Goins said.
In Columbia County, where water department officials issued written warnings to about 700 customers last month, compliance has improved, said Waterworks Director Bill Clayton.
So far, about 50 repeat violators will face $100 fines, he said.
"We hear a laundry list of reasons they are not complying, but obviously, after multiple warnings, it doesn't leave us many options," he said.
Daily water consumption levels in both counties are slightly higher than usual, but not excessive.
Mr. Goins said Augustans are using about 40 million to 45 million gallons a day from the Highland Avenue plant; 9 million to 10 million gallons a day from the Hicks Plant; and 8 million to 9 million gallons a day from groundwater wells.
In Columbia County, which relies on surface water from Thurmond Lake and the Savannah River, daily consumption has risen to about 32 million gallons, Mr. Clayton said.
As a precaution, he said, the county is opening dialogue with the Army Corps of Engineers about modifying the water intake at its Clarks Hill plant near Pollards Corner to function when the lake levels decline.
"We're trying to put a Plan B in place that would include an auxiliary pump," Mr. Clayton said. "It's something we hope we won't have to implement, but we're planning for it."
Under the current water-conservation measures, outdoor watering is allowed from midnight to 10 a.m. on an even-odd basis based on street address.
Even-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and odd-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
No watering is allowed on Mondays.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a question about watering restrictions or other regulations? Call:
- Augusta-Richmond County Utilities Department: (706) 842-3050 or (706) 821-1851
- Columbia County Water Department: (706) 863-6928