Water ban penalty to keep flowing in Lee

Violators not notified by town until the residents receive their water bills in fall

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TOWN OF LEE — As a town order for no lawn-watering or car-washing in its water district reaches two weeks with no end imminent, Lee Supervisor John Urtz addressed enforcement that includes $25 water-bill penalties but otherwise does not notify violators.

Regarding the restriction which is due to the recent exceptionally dry weather, Urtz on Thursday said a lot are ignoring it, and “when they get their bills this fall, they’ll be screaming.”

When violations are seen by town Water Superintendent Joshua Szyper, those residents are having $25 penalties added to their regular bills for each day they violate the restriction, according to Urtz.

Town water district residents’ regular bills are mailed out twice a year,
including once in the spring and once in the fall.

Urtz, when asked whether residents are being notified at the time of their violation such as through a note on their doors, said “we’re not going to do that;” he added violators will be “notified
when their bill comes” which will include their total number of violations.

He commented the restriction was announced by the town including on its website plus through news media.

When asked whether violators could maintain they were not aware of the restriction, he said they would have to formally prove that.

Urtz observed many people previously have not observed the typical longtime restrictions that allowed watering east of Turin Road on even-numbered days only and west of Turin Road on odd-numbered days only; the restrictions have been to help avoid possible strain on water district reserves when the weather turns hot and dry.

“What do you do? Do you shut them off?” Urtz said of potentially turning off water service to violators, which would include a $50 charge to “turn it on again” each time. “We can. But we chose not to,” he added.

Urtz could not immediately estimate the overall number of violators so far since the current restriction was announced by the town on June 18. He previously noted Szyper found 23 residents watering lawns on June 20 and 42 instances on June 21, including some repeat violators.

There has been not enough recent rain to call off the restriction, said Urtz, who indicated last week that an inch or two would be needed.

Town officials have said the restriction does not affect watering of gardens including flowers and other plantings, which can still be done.

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