Town officials are cracking down on those who violate mandatory water restrictions by resuming patrols at night and early morning.
The area is in a Stage 3 drought, and use of residential sprinklers, irrigation systems and other remote landscape watering is currently allowed only on Saturdays. Residents may use handheld watering containers and hoses with spray nozzles to water plants any day of the week.
However, water runoff is prohibited.
"There are people who are continuing to water their lawn, and doing it more than one day a week," Town Manager David Hudspeth told the town council at a meeting Monday night.
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"We will have to put town employees out at night, but there have been enough violations that it warrants it."
Watering was banned at one point altogether last year because of the drought. The town enforced that restriction, and for the most part, residents obeyed it. However, changes in the restrictions since May have confused people, so the town will issue a warning on first offense, Hudspeth said.
"It is fair to give a warning because we have changed the restrictions a lot of times," he told the council.
"If we give them a warning in writing on the first offense, they can't say they didn't understand the rules."
If a water customer violates the restrictions after receiving a warning, the violation will carry a $50 fine. A second offense after a warning will carry a $150 fine.
Violations may also result in a water cutoff.
The hot weather has tempted water customers to try to keep their lawns green, but it is not realistic in this drought, town officials said.
Water customers are asked not to plant new sod and to postpone planting all new shrubs, flowers, trees, gardens and other landscaping until the drought subsides. Aerating and over-seeding of established lawns is also discouraged.
The one exception to the rule is commercial landscape nurseries that use the town's water supply. They may use water as necessary to keep their stock of plants alive, but they are urged to use water with conservation in mind.
For more information, visit the town's Web site, www.fortmillsc.org.