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Water cheaters may face increased fines

To avoid confusion, the City Council also wants to make water restrictions uniform in the city and the county.

By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000


TAMPA -- Tampa residents using more than their fair share of water soon may face heftier fines, as well as a beefed-up fleet of inspectors on the lookout for them.

David Tippin, director of the Tampa Water Department, told the City Council on Thursday that with rainfall at 64 percent of its normal rate, and no end in sight to the drought, raising fines for first-time offenders of watering restrictions from $35 to $100 might send the right message.

"We have some folks out there who are not cooperating," Tippin said. "We have to get their attention." A second fine, he suggested, might be $150 to $200.

The council did not pass any new water restrictions Thursday, but council Chairman Charlie Miranda suggested Mayor Dick Greco meet with representatives of the County Commission to discuss ways to make watering restrictions uniform.

Miranda said he worried about some residents in Hillsborough getting a mixed message, since restrictions vary on a number of points between the unincorporated area and the city.

For example, county residents are allowed to water new landscaping any day for 60 days after installation, while city residents can water it only once a week on an approved day.

The council voted to approve Miranda's request. The County Commission will consider in coming weeks whether to reduce that 60-day period.

"It will be very difficult for us to enforce an ordinance different from what the county has," Miranda said. "I'd like to see some type of ordinance for all the citizens."

Miranda said the city might consider prohibiting the private washing of cars and the pressure-washing of homes. "No one likes to do this type of thing. The only reward is, "Are you part of what solves the problem?' "

Tippin, the water director, said that with the drought continuing, "last spring was a cakewalk as compared to this spring."

He said the city was considering adding personnel to its eight shifts of water enforcement workers.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at 813-226-3337 or goffard@sptimes.com.

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