As part of the emergency ordinance passed by City Council March 5, the enforcement of water conservation is in effect. Violators will be subject to surcharges and fines, which could result in revocation of water service to non-compliant customers.
City of Altus Chief of Operations Bob Stephenson clarified during an interview this week that the two best ways to avoid any penalties is to conserve the use of water, and manage it properly.
Residential customers who use less than 7,500 gallons of water per month will not incur surcharge. Any water usage between 7,500 gallons and 15,000 will have a surcharge of $0.87 per 1000 gallons, 15,001 gal. to 30,000 it is $1.00 per 1000 gal., and $2 per 1000 gal over 30,000. For customers who have a separate irrigation water meter the surcharge begins at 5000 gal.
“A large segment of customers don’t use more than 7,500 per month for the most part, and won’t pay any surcharge, but are still subject to control,” said Stephenson.
Provisions have already been in place to fine customers who allow water to run beyond the curb and into the street, off of the intended property, up to $500 per incident.
Proper outside water management includes watering between midnight and 9 a.m. every other day for outside purposes including, but not limited to, watering the lawn, gardens, plants, shrubs, vehicles, and filling swimming pools or other recreational use. Non-abiding customers will first be fined $25 and court costs for the first offense, then up to $500 plus court costs for the second offense, and $750 plus court costs for additional violations thereafter. “The maximum penalty includes revocation of service for those who do not comply,” explained Stephenson.
If the Water Department is working on projects in the community and notices someone watering when they aren’t supposed to, or has water running off their property, etc., they can write a report and submit it to the Altus Police who can then write a ticket to compel the person to appear before a judge, explained Stephenson.
Stephenson indicated that early enforcement will involve issuing a ticket, and depending on the circumstance, maybe a warning.
“The ordinance is still a work in progress,” indicated Stephenson. Some provisions outlined in the article, specifically pertaining to the installation of approved sprinkler systems and the acceptable use for filling swimming pools are to be revised.
According to the order, the water restriction program will be lifted when Lake Tom Steed and Lake Lugert-Altus have risen to a level, when combined with long-term weather forecasts, can assuredly provide adequate water to the city.
Once the public is educated about what is expected, Stephenson feels 98% of the public will do the right thing.