The Town of Zionsville will now be enforcing a water ban by patrolling neighborhoods and giving out fines.
Zionsville Town Council President Tim Haak signed an Emergency Executive Order on Water Conservation Thursday, July 19. The order took effect at 9 a.m. Friday, July 20. The order is in effect until further notice.
Haak said Citizens water asked the Town of Zionsville to enforce the water ban last week. Citizens Water issued an initial mandatory water ban almost a month ago.
“This is something we have never had to do before and we had to do it quickly,” Haak said.
With this order, the town has the ability/authority to enforce the provisions of the conservation order. Town staff — specifically police officers, the fire department staff and building inspectors — will collaboratively work together to enforce the provisions of the order.
“During the pendency of this water conservation order, it shall be unlawful for a water user, defined as any customer or other individual, firm, corporation, government, agency, or other entity using water within the Town of Zionsville from the Citizens Water system, to cause, permit, allow, do, or engage in any of the following actions:” the ban states.
n Sprinkling, watering, or irrigating of grass;
n Washing cars, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, railroad cars or any other type of mobile equipment, except as required by applicable local, state, or federal law for health or safety reasons;
n Using water to clean sidewalks, driveways, paved areas, structures, buildings, or other outdoor surfaces;
n Filling empty swimming pools;
n Installing new landscaping or new lawn by using sod until a return to normal conditions is declared by a subsequent Executive Order;
n Using hydrants except for fire suppression or as otherwise directed by Citizens Energy Group; and
n Operating water fountains that are non-recycling.
Nurseries, automatic and manual commercial car washes, golf courses, any watering of property owned or controlled by the Zionsville Department of Parks and Recreation and users with their own wells are exempt from the mandatory conservation measures. Watering vegetable gardens and flowers by container or hand-held hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle and watering trees less than five years old are the exception.
Violators of the order will receive a warning on their first violation, a $250 fine for a second violation, a $500 fine for a third violation and up to a $2,500 fine for the fourth violation.
“We looked at what other communities have done,” he said. “Indianapolis fines right away but other towns like Fishers give one warning before a fine so we wanted to model their enforcement. A warning for the first offense is the right thing to do.”
Residents can also call 873-1592 to leave a complaint. The town will then investigate the complaint and decide what type of, if any, citation is needed.
Haak said the town has had residents call and complain about overuse. Sarah Holsapple, Citizens Water media relations coordinator, said the water company has also received several complaints daily from people complaining about their neighbors excessively watering their lawns.
According to the Zionsville Times Sentinel Facebook page, Zionsville resident Melissa Dunkerly Cawi said “Please patrol the Fox Hollow neighborhood. Several violators. It is obvious which houses.”
Citizens Energy Group has a ban in effect that restricts lawn watering for all of their customers due to extremely low levels in the Geist, Morris and Eagle Creek reservoirs. As of Tuesday, July 17, Morse’s level was down 5.99 feet from full; Geist’s level was down 2.02 feet from full; and Eagle Creek’s level was down 2.30 feet from full.
“We had a record amount of water used in one day,” she said. “There was 233 million gallons used on (Thursday) June 28. Our average for a July day is 175 million gallons.”
As of July 17, Citizens Water customers used 160 million gallons. This number is down two million gallons from Monday, July 16.