Park City Considers Punishing Water Violators

Park City Considers Punishing Water Violators

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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- City officials are considering an ordinance that would provide stiff fines and possible jail sentences for breaking water-conservation regulations.

Depending on drought severity, violation of the watering law could be a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fines. Other possible punishments would include city-enforced fines of $50 to $500 a day or having water service turned off.

If the proposal passes, Park City will become one of a very limited number of Utah cities that make violation of water conservation laws a criminal misdemeanor. That's how seriously Park City's taking the possible lack of life-sustaining liquid.

"It is very extreme. It's about as extreme as you can get," Mayor Dana Williams said. "On the other side of the coin, there are those who, regardless of what we do, will disregard the rules."

Just asking residents to comply and sprinkle lawns every other day between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. the method since the 1980s apparently is no longer enough.

"At some point in time you have to take stronger efforts," said Jerry Gibbs, city public works director.

The public works director will probably call for Stage 1 drought restrictions in June, asking for a 15 percent reduction if the water department can't meet peak-day demands. The city would encourage watering lawns every third day and minimizing water use such as cleaning sidewalks and driveways and only serving water upon request at restaurants. It would seek out heavy-use customers to check for leaky pipes. Warnings and fines would be used to enforce this stage.

The mayor could declare a Stage 2 drought and a 30 percent water-use reduction goal, restricting irrigation to every third day at shorter intervals. The city also would implement temporary drought rates, prohibit car washing unless done at a commercial car wash that recycles water. It would prohibit irrigation of city and privately owned golf courses, sidewalk-driveway washing, commercial ornamental fountains and planting or installing lawns by seed or sod.

A state-of-emergency Stage 3 drought would call for a 50 percent cut in citywide water usage. It would ban all outdoor watering, car washing, water use in ornamental fountains and ponds, filling swimming pools and new connections to the water distribution system.

Bob Ivory, who recently spent $400,000 to remodel his Buggy Bath Car Wash, including a $50,000 water reclamation system, fears drastic measures could put him out of business.

"If they want to say no car wash at all, I'm afraid they'd have to say no dishwashing at restaurants," Ivory said. "And are you going to shut down laundromats? They use more water than car washes."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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