U.S. Water News Online
HOOVER, Ala. -- Police patrolling this Birmingham suburb
for violators of a new lawn-watering ban are finding plenty of help
-- neighbors apparently eager to report each other.
Hoover police dispatched officers recently on more than 65 calls
in one day of alleged water-wasting, most from people complaining
about their neighbors. The mayors of Birmingham and four suburbs --
Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills -- have declared
a water emergency, adding police force to an outdoor watering ban.
The Birmingham Water Works asked for the ban because Lake Purdy,
the area's primary water source, has fallen critically low. Without
rain, authorities predict the lake will run dry in less than two
months because of persistent drought throughout the Southeast.
With the emergency ordinances taking effect this week, including
fines that will be levied in Birmingham, police and residents have
begun getting serious about ending illicit sprinkling.
Janis Callahan of Birmingham said she learned about the ban only
after her neighbor filed a police report detailing how Callahan
waters her lawn and plants for 10 minutes each day.
``I do not get local television or the local paper,'' said. ``I
only found out for the first time there was a watering problem. I
planted some new lettuce and cabbage seed this weekend and I was
watering my seed when the lunatic next door started photographing
me,'' she said.
Her solution? Bottled water.
``I'm not going to lose my garden over this,'' Callahan said.
Residents caught violating the ban can face a maximum fine of up
to $200 and 180 days in jail.
A Hoover policeman roused one resident at 2 a.m. with orders to
turn off his sprinkler system.
``That person obviously wasn't happy,'' police spokesman A.C.
Roper said. ``But we really see this as a threat to our quality of
life here in Hoover. Whether it's a crime wave or water restrictions,
we'll do what we have to do to enforce the ordinances on the books.''
Birmingham police have installed a telephone hot line to handle
water calls. Residents tattled on 26 alleged violators by 4 p.m.,
police spokesman Lt. Moody Duff said. The city also printed 25,000
fliers explaining the water ban and police distributed them.
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