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July 13, 2014

Duncan’s water rationing fines hit over $14,000

DUNCAN — Fines totaling $14,038 have been collected for water rationing violations in Duncan, city officials said this week.

The fines were collected for 112 violations to date, said City Manager Jim Frieda.

While those who paid the fines may disagree, Duncan’s water rationing has been viewed as a success because average daily water consumption has been reduced from about 9 million gallons  to 4.2 million.

  Nevertheless, the water level in Waurika Lake, Duncan’s main source of water, continues to slide because of the drought.

  This week, the so-called conservation pool at the reservoir has been in the 36 percent range, low enough to justify more stringent rationing measures under a city ordinance passed in 2013.

If the City Council decides next month to ratchet up the rationing, all outdoor water  usage will be banned, meaning the 9-hour window during which residents are allowed to water their lawns and gardens during two days each week will be taken away.

 Those hours, as they now stand, are from midnight to 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

  Stage 4 rationing also would mean that fines assessed violators will increase substantially, according to city officials.

 Under Stage 3 rationing, which the city imposed in March 2013, a first offense carries a fine of $100, but with court fines attached the total cost is $149.

  A second offense, with fine and court costs, carries a cost of $199 while a third offense is $299.

Under Stage 4 rationing, the first offense carries a $250 fine and $49 court costs and a second offense carries a $500 fine and $49 court costs.

The third offense carries a $750 fine and $49 court costs and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Water rationing has rankled some residents. One complainant appeared before City Council recently to complain he has driven down 10th Street and observed people watering their lawns in blatant disregard of the mandatory rationing guidelines.

But what may appear to be outright violations are sometimes not what they seem. More than a few residents are able to water their grass whenever they want because they have their own private water wells on their property.

The City of Duncan has nothing to do with their regulation and isn’t even sure how many private wells are in the city, according to Public Works Director Scott Vaughn.

But one thing is without dispute, he said.

The city’s rationing rules don’t apply to them.

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