FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's lawn watering rules are being changed.
An automated metering system is now in place so the city can determine how much water each home uses, and when they use it.
But fines for breaking the rules are being reduced and most fines won't be imposed for one year.
After the experimental switch to an automated water meter system last year generated thousands of complaints from those who were cited for watering violations, the city of Fresno is making changes.
Public utilities director Mike Carbajal told the city council any fines for violations detected by the automated system won't be imposed for one year.
"This will fully allow customers to understand their water use, while staff will validate the performance of these automated systems," Carbajal said.
The plan is - starting in May of 2020, fines will be imposed.
Now, the first violation will generate a warning. Then a $50 fine, followed by a $100 fine, with $200 for each consecutive month after that. But the city council wants another review before any fines are levied.
However, water violators who are spotted the old fashioned way - by visual inspectors - won't get the one-year break.
"We will maintain the status quo for visual enforcement regulations. This is going out. Those items where there may be consistent runoff, broken sprinklers, that sort of thing - the visual enforcement regulations will remain in effect, including fines as necessary," said Carbajal.
But watering hours will be extended. Morning watering can go on until 10, as opposed to 9.
Evening watering can start at 6. The city will also have just two seasonal schedules - three days a week from April through October, one day a week from November to March.
There are no restrictions on how much water can be used in a given watering day. But each household will be allowed one violation day per month, without penalty.
And to try and avoid confusion, a public information campaign to explain all this is expected.
The state suggests each person use no more than 300 gallons a day. So far, each Fresno resident on average uses 205 gallons per day.
Fresno's watering rules are changing
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