Local News

Raleigh Recruits City Workers to Enforce Water Restrictions

Posted September 18, 2007 12:18 a.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2007 6:20 a.m. EDT

— Police officers usually fight crime, but with the recent drought, city officials have asked them to become water cops.

Raleigh implemented Stage 1 water restrictions on Aug. 28, limiting residents to one day of outdoor watering a week with sprinklers and a second day of using a hand-held hose. That move came less than two months after the city first imposed mandatory three-day limits.

"Our lawn is suffering terribly,” said resident Judd Welborn.

Welborn's grass looks more like hay these days. Welborn said he follows Raleigh's mandatory water restrictions, but knows there are other people who do not.

"For those folks who choose to disobey, you hope the code enforcement officers are doing their job,” said Welborn.

Brian Casey is one of three water code enforcement officers for Raleigh. The city has 180,000 water customers, so keeping up with violators is not easy.

"Early mornings, drink a lot of coffee and wake up at 4 o'clock,” said Casey.

The drought has forced the city to find new recruits. Some city employees, from meter readers to police officers, are being asked to keep an eye out for violators and report them to code enforcement officers.

"We'll, that's one more than we had last year, so we've increased our staff by 50 percent,” said Dale Crisp, Raleigh public utilities director.

“It makes a big difference and I can cover other areas if I know they are over here or there. That helps a lot,” said Casey.

In the past, water citations could only be issued if a code enforcer officer witnessed the violation. With the extra eyes on the street, citations are also issued based on the word of other city workers.

A first violation of the restrictions is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third will result in water service being shut off.