Water Monitors Are Watching

Albemarle County water monitors are out searching for violators of the state-mandated water restrictions, and they’re finding them in spades. Activities like washing cars and watering lawns are no longer permitted, but that doesn’t seem to stop some people. The problem areas are largely suburban planned communities including Glenmore, Forest Lakes and Dunlora. Violators of the restrictions could be fined up to $500. The monitors aren’t the only way to get caught — the county has set up a snitch line for neighbors to report one another. Peter Savodnik has the story in today’s Progress.

14 thoughts on “Water Monitors Are Watching”

  1. You’d think they could call it something nicer than a "snitch line" — way to discourage people from reporting violations!

  2. Yes–maybe the "good citizen line" or the "water watchdog line". Definitely a marketing breakdown there!

  3. This sure sounds an awful lot like the "Operation Tips" proposal that was so roundly criticized.

    Question for everyone to ponder: If you saw a neighbor violating the restrictions, would you approach the scalawag and point it out, or would you call the authorities?

  4. What kills me about this sort of "snitch line" is that some of us who have spend thousands of dollars landscaping our property can get "snitched" on by lazy, do-nothing neighbors who, on a good day, MAY actually get off their butts and mow their lawn.

    It’s easy to snitch when you don’t have a $1000 dollars in plants in your yard. And yes, they are drought tolerant plants, but in the recent heat even they are turning brown.

    I’m not advocating cheating the water restrictions, but at least try and be sympathetic to those who have made an effort to make their communities look attractive, a practice that enhances the value of all properties in the area, including the one’s owned by deadbeats.

  5. Question for everyone to ponder: If you saw a neighbor violating the restrictions, would you approach the scalawag and point it out, or would you call the authorities?

    Depends on whether he’d voted for me or not.


  6. It’s interesting: on the one hand, it encourages a sort of passive-aggressive approach, in that you might see your neighbor hosing down her deck, smile and wave and say hi, then sneak into the house and call the water monitors to narc on her. When really, the brave thing to do would be to walk over to her house and ask her if she knows that there are water restrictions in effect.

    On the other hand, we’re social animals who (generally) shy away from open conflict with our peers/neighbors. Maybe it’s entirely realistic to recognize that we’re NOT likely to approach our neighbors with a possibly unpleasant or uncomfortable confrontation about water usage. And since we’re likely to avoid that confrontation, it’s therefore sensible to set up a snitch line–i mean, good water citizen line–to get the job done.

    Full disclosure: i saw my neighbor hosing down her deck. i didn’t say anything to her. i didn’t call the snitch line. i am a bad water citizen.

  7. I’m curious–what specifically do you mean by "try and be sympathetic," if you don’t mean "let them cheat the water restrictions"?

    I speak as someone who has not put $1000 of plants in my yard BUT who is not a deadbeat with a hideous yard. I have a plain but tidy yard.

  8. No, don’t let people cheat. But the tone of the Daily Regress article seemed a bit too hostile – calling people "water theives" is a bit drastic. I simply get the feel that people are ENJOYING catching people with nice yards watering inappropriately.

    I’ve heard people I personally know laugh and think it was funny that yards people had spent a fourtune and untold manhours creating were turning brown and wilting. Comments to the effect the "rich people and their yards" somehow deserve to lose their investment in time and money – it’s wrong and unnecessarily hostile.

    For some it is certainly an arrogant and non-civic minded action. For others, it’s an act of desperation. It’s still not right, but "water thieves" – come on!

    I don’t think you should be able to get away with illeagle watering. But on the other hand, people should not take some perverse enjoyment over other people’s yards dying a drought death.

    Not eveyone with a nice yard is rich and lives in Glenmore.

  9. Hey mmike87, if you’ve got some hardy plants that are having difficulty, I do believe that you still have the perfectly legal and condoned option of using a watering can of not more than three gallons to go out and water.

    A good way to let the grass go to hell, but keep the more valuable plants alive. And they won’t even give you a warning for doing so. :)

    I think, theoretically, that you could legally water your whole lawn this way, but I personally wouldn’t want to try it.

  10. MMike87 and any others with new plants,

    I just went out to Andre Viette nurseries and got great deals on plants. (Another topic.) But what I’ve been doing for watering the new plants has been:

    a. Taking dishwater after doing the dishes (dishwashing liquid doesn’t hurt them–my hydrageas have been okay with this)

    b. Taking the dog and cats’ bowls of water and pouring them out on my plants that are just outside the door (yes, it’s not a lot of water but hey, better than down the drain)

    c. I bought two buckets and put them in the shower. I get a full bucket of water by putting it near the drain (and I’m only in the shower about 5-7 minutes).

    I suppose someone might call the water police on me but I have my two red buckets in the tub as proof of recycling water. These aren’t hard to do (ok, the first one is a little hard to remember and a little hard to do) and I’m a lazy person at times.

    I’ve heard a rumor that someone in town will set up your gutters to store rain. Of course, it has to rain first….

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I know how you feel and my plants are pretty drought tolerant but I would like to care for the new ones to give them a fighting chance.

    If anyone else has any hints, bring them on.


  11. There are lots of things people shouldn’t do. Unfortunately, perverse enjoyment at the trials and tribulations of others is a popular thing (check out the reality show near you).

    Doesn’t excuse jeapordizing the water supply on the part of people who put effort into their yards before the drought (got this bad) though. You take a risk with something like that. When nature works out this way, things have to be prioritized. And anyone deciding that their yard is more important that maintaining a minimum level of water for people in this area is worse, in my opinion, than any perverse pleasure another might take. (i should point out that i live next to a neighbor with a sensational yard and i’ve offered the allowable share of water i get to her to aid in maintaining it. i hate to see something like that go to waste…but thats just how things work out sometimes.)

  12. Please take this seriously! My parents well ran dry earlier in the season and now they have to take showers on the deck with camping equipment. God only knows what they’ll do in the winter. This is in Albemarle near the Fluvanna line. Meanwhile, their neighbors have filled their hot tubs and watered their lawns without a care (and yes, they have talked to these people). It’s important to exercise restraint in the city, but it you live in the county please keep in mind that people’s wells are running dry right down the road. Reason enough for people to keep their eyes peeled.

  13. I’m wondering if the City and ACSA will request a rate increase to help them make up for the loss in revenue that will accompany decreased water use, compounded by increased payroll required to send out their water monitors? I’d be surprised if that weren’t on the horizon.

    Fortunately, we’re on a decent well (knock on wood), and don’t have to deal with ACSA. Will the county attempt to impose fees on well users, or use monies from the general fund to make up for these losses? I certainly hope not – I’d have to speak out loudly against any such efforts – unless they’re willing to help well users reestablish water accessibility with tax breaks or favorable loans.

    I’ve heard people say of well users who needed to drill new wells that it was the price you pay for not having county water. The same could be said of people in the county’s urban ring who SHOULD and hopefully WILL be the ones paying for any ACSA shortfall – that’s the price they have to pay for having a reliable, safe water supply. Those of us on wells shouldn’t be asked to pay one cent toward that matter.

    Does anybody know if any of the county’s general fund currently goes to ACSA? I’d be interested to know.

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