Falling in line with Rock Hill and Fort Mill, city leaders voted unanimously Monday to allow residents to water their lawns one day a week - despite the reservations of some council members.
Recent rains have brought lake levels along the Catawba River back up to normal levels, though stream flows and ground water measurements are still below normal, Councilman Les Conner said.
"We're still in a serious problem here," he said. "The Catawba is the most endangered river in the U.S. because of all the development on the river. We've got to protect the river, Tega Cay alone can't do it, it's going to take both states."
Tega Cay residents with odd-numbered addresses can begin watering their lawns midnight - 9 a.m. Saturdays. Those with even-numbered addresses get midnight - 9 a.m. Sundays. Town of Fort Mill residents with odd-numbered homes can water 9 p.m.-5 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and for even-numbered homes, it's the same hours Sundays and Mondays. Township residents in York County who live outside city and town limits can water on Saturdays if they have odd-numbered homes and Sundays for even numbers.
In a separate vote, the council also eased restrictions on commercial water users, allowing for once weekly landscape irrigation on the same schedule as residential water users, and limited fire hydrant withdrawals. Washing cars or other vehicles and washing down hard surfaces such as sidewalks is still prohibited.
Despite attempting to put itself in line with other cities in the region, Tega Cay's irrigation window does differ from Fort Mill and Rock Hill.
"We wanted to keep it on the same day. With theirs, you're falling on two days," Runde said. "This way it will cut down on the confusion."
While the council was relaxing the watering restrictions it also told the city's staff to step up enforcement against residents that violate the current and previous watering restrictions. The city will be tracking down residents that have violated the watering ban since October through utility records.
Tega Cay Utility Department customers, mostly in the newer sections of the city, with irrigation systems have a separate irrigation tap and meter for their sprinkler systems. Mayor Bob Runde and Conner want the city to examine utility bills from irrigation taps beginning with the first meter reading following Oct. 2, the day the water restriction were adopted through Monday, and determine if and how much to fine anyone who drew water through their irrigation system.
However, Councilmen Larry Harper and John Dervay raised objections. They pointed out that less than half of city residents are on the TCUD system and that there is no meter for residents on Tega Cay Water Service, which charges flat fees. Dervay also objected to a perceived attempt to micromanage code enforcement through ordinance and said the city should leave it up to the police or code enforcement officer handing out the citation as to whether it should be a warning or an actual citation.
Conner, although he seemed to support Runde's move to use available records to prosecute past infractions of the municipal code, also opposed actually voting to direct City Manager Grant Duffield to do it.
"This is a tool, and if we haven't been using it that's our fault," Conner said. "We've had violations of the ordinance and we have a tool to remedy it, but now we're making an ordinance to use the tool?"
Runde conceded and withdrew his motion without a vote saying his main goal was to merely address the issue. He said he was frustrated that he felt it was necessary that the council pass an ordinance to have another ordinance enforced.
The issue was dropped without a clear indication of whether the city would be looking to issue citations for prior violations of the water restrictions or just tightly enforce the new rules.
• Town of Fort Mill residents call 547-7390
• Tega Cay residents call 548-1401
• York County residents outside town or city limits call (803) 628-3210
• Indian Land and Van Wyck residents call (803) 285-6919
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