City of Fresno tallies nearly 11,000 water waste notices so far this year

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Don Wells has been rolling up on all kinds of water waste in Fresno for 28 years.

One report he responded to Tuesday morning in Central Fresno was fairly straightforward. There was an irrigation system on in a backyard and water had trickled to the alley, sidewalks, and streets in the surrounding area. After taking some pictures of the waste, he spoke to the homeowner.

"Have you ever received an incident notice before about watering?" Wells asked the homeowner.

The homeowner had not, and had already shut off the water, so he'll avoid a $45 citation, as long as he doesn't get another notice in the next two years.

"He was familiar with the watering schedules but it's still not an excuse for flooding gutters, so he received an incident notice," Wells said.

The call about the waste came in to the offices of the city's water division. Dispatchers there receive about 100 calls and 100 e-mails every day.

Nora Laikam oversees a street team of about 10 that currently has its hands full, handing out nearly 11,000 water waste notices so far this year. More than 3,000 have included a fine. There have been more than 50,000 total notices since 2012.

Laikam says their job is to secure the city's water supply and help cut usage by the state's order of 28%.

"We all know that this is serious for the community so our group will do its job and we rely on these volunteers from the public to help us too," Laikam said.

Enforcement is strict, but education, now more than ever, is really getting through to those who waste, she says.

"They are more accepting of the information, they don't really fight it because they know we're in a very severe drought," she said.

Despite the flooded gutters in Central Fresno this morning, Wells says you hardly ever see them anymore in Fresno. That's a good sign as the drought shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
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