PHILADELPHIA(AP) -- Now that it's against the law to waste water, police are getting phone calls from people turning in their neighbors for offenses like watering the lawn or washing the car.
``We're getting a lot of neighbors ratting on neighbors,'' said Lower Salford Police Sgt. Jeffrey Wright.
On July 20, Gov. Ridge declared a drought emergency, meaning homeowners and some businesses are forbidden to water lawns, wash streets, sidewalks or driveways, or top off private swimming pools.
There are exceptions. People may wash cars with buckets of water and it's OK to fill and top off of public swimming pools, and to water tees and greens at golf courses at night, officials said.
No official tally has been made on how many complaints are made, but the calls are numerous and mostly anonymous, police said.
Sometimes, the callers report people who are using water legally. In central Pennsylvania, a dairy farmer said he had been visited by a state trooper for spraying his alfalfa field.
The trooper stopped by because a neighbor complained, the farmer said. Farmers are permitted to irrigate crops and maintain livestock.
Upper Makefield Police Officer Richard Krause said he believed people were turning others in because ``if their lawns are going to have to die, all the lawns in their neighborhood are going to die.''
So the Philadelphia police radio has been crackling for days with reports of ``woman watering lawn'' and ``someone washing car.''
``If people are doing it, we're just telling them to stop,'' said Philadelphia Police Capt. Linda MacLachlin.
By and large, most departments say they are letting violators off with first-time warnings.
But Larry Breeden, 59, of Upper Makefield, was not. Breeden said he was on vacation when he received a warning posted on his front door about the automatic sprinkler system for his new $6,000 bed of rhododendron, hydrangea and other plants.
Police returned again before he came home to find Breeden's sprinklers running again. He was fined $300, which he said he would contest on the grounds that the first warning was improperly issued. Fines generally can range from $200 to $500.
State police spokesman Jack Lewis said Pennsylvania's 4,000 troopers had been asked to keep an eye out for offenders and to use discretion with issuing citations.
``Our goal is compliance,'' Lewis said.
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