The "water police" are on patrol for water conservation violators in Dallas.
“Wasted water is a serious, serious problem, because it’s a precious commodity,” Patterson said.
At 11:30 am on a recent summer morning, they spotted water running down the street from a sprinkler system in a North Dallas neighborhood. Water was cascading over the curb in violation of summer daytime watering restrictions and rules that forbid run off from landscaped areas. The homeowner received a warning but the officers will follow up to be certain that the violation is solved.
Water conservation violation fines in Dallas can be as much as $2,000 per day.
“We’ve got to look at our kids and our grandkids having a water source after we leave here, and if we keep wasting water like we’re wasting it now, it’s going to be pretty hard for them,” Patterson said.
The inspectors say they now find far fewer wasters after years of promoting conservation in North Texas. Conservation is a major part of the Dallas plan to provide water supplies in the future. Dallas now uses more than 20 percent less water than it did a decade ago. It amounts to water savings of about 12 billion gallons a year.
Systems can easily be operated to avoid conservation violations, according to Brandon Harris with Texas Waterboys Irrigation, a professional sprinkler repair service.
“A lot of times, people water too long and they get runoff,” he said.
Harris said a system may only need to run for 10 minutes at a time to provide the proper amount of water.
“You can add more days, less time or do drip irrigation," he said. "There’s tons of different options there.”
The city of Dallas also offers free irrigation system checks for homeowners.
“They will send someone from water conservation to check it if you don’t know how to work your system, so there’s really no excuse for not knowing how,” Patterson said.