Flowery Branch residents could soon be paying fines for violating the outdoor watering ban.
At Wednesday morning’s City Council meeting, council members approved the first reading of a water restriction enforcement ordinance that would incur a fine for those caught violating the state-mandated outdoor watering ban.
The state imposed the watering ban for 61 counties in Northeast Georgia on Sept. 28 that prohibits outdoor pressure washing, filling pools, washing cars as well as watering lawns and gardens.
The state imposed the ban after declaring the area in a level four drought, the most severe drought stage.
The water restriction enforcement ordinance would align Flowery Branch’s outdoor watering fines with those of Gainesville. Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said several Flowery Branch residents use Gainesville water service, and the city would like to make the penalties apply to everyone across the city.
Andrew said the ordinance is part of the city’s water management plan that seeks to reduce water use by 10 percent in accordance with Gov. Sonny Perdue’s request.
As of the ordinance’s first approved reading, the penalty for first-time violators would result in a $50 surcharge on the offender’s water bill. No warnings will be issued.
Second-time violators will be fined $200, which will appear on their water bill, and their water will be shut off.
To reconnect to the city’s water service, offenders must pay an additional $20.
Flowery Branch City Clerk Melissa McCain said there have been few violators reported thus far.
"We’ve had a couple people washing cars, but no one else has been caught yet," she said.
Andrew added that as of now, there is no penalty in Flowery Branch for defying the outdoor watering ban.
The second reading of the proposed ordinance will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 5.