Florida County unleashes new crew of water cops

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County unleashes new crew of water cops

Nannette Miranda a 28 Tampa Bay News report 4/8/01

Pinellas County - Look out water violators! Pinellas County has a new army of inspectors combing the streets in your neighborhood, looking for people illegally watering their lawns.

It's a new program that began Saturday to help the Bay Area deal with its severe drought. Pinellas County Utilities trained 47 employees willing to work overtime to act as "water cops." Usually only two full-time inspectors are on duty.

Randy Martin usually works as an account representative for the agency. But, he prowls his assigned area from midnight to eight a.m., trying to catch people watering their yards on the wrong day.

"The best time to catch them is usually between 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.," he said. Martin wrote 26 citations Saturday morning in Treasure Island.

This new tactic of beefed-up patrols comes after the Southwest Florida Water Management District issued an emergency order to cut water usage by 5%.

Even the county, though, realizes the water patrols may not cut usage enough.

"But the program will educate and stop water usage from increasing," said Tim Wiley, Customer Service Director of Pinellas County Utilities.

The 47 new recruits will rotate shifts, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The first citation garners a warning. After that, fines begin and increase up to $500. After $500, a county attorney could mandate a court appearance.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), April 09, 2001

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