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I.E. cop cracks down on water wasters

September 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is a new cop on the beat in the Inland Empire. He is armed with a clipboard and a camera to save water.Bill Stephens is the region's first and only water cop.

"It's just water being wasted," said Stephens.

Stephens works for the Eastern Municipal Water District. He goes out each day looking for those who are wasting water -- mostly businesses.

"It seems like water travels several hundred miles. It takes days to get here, they purify it, clean it up to the point where we can drink it, and this is what we see," said Stephens as he observed wasted water.

A shopping center in Moreno Valley had lots of water wasted on the driveway and sidewalks. Stephens took a look around and found the source was a single palm tree, which Stephens says is being overwatered.

At another parking lot, there was a Niagara Falls of water waste. The sprinklers in that lot were on at the right time, during the early morning hours. However, there was a lot of runoff. These are the kind of things Stephens is looking out for.

This water cop is enforcing the law. Wasting water can lead to hefty fines in the Inland Empire. Violators are first issued a warning. However, if you're caught again, that could mean fines up to $300.

"At some point the pocketbook is where it reaches people, so we have to do that," said Randy Record, Eastern Municipal Water District.

Board member Randy Record says a new law started Tuesday. That law allows targeting of individual homeowners for water waste.

"I don't think we have much choice. When it comes to a situation where there's not enough water, we're going to have to decide: Do we want it to run off a landscape that we really can't use? Or, do we want it for our homes and farms? That's a choice we're going to have to make and the public has to be aware of that," said Record.

 

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