Columbus Council Discusses Water Fine Ordinance

October 30, 2007

Columbus council introduced an ordinance Tuesday, that would allow the city to fine water violators as much as $1,000. But the measure isn't on the books yet.

With Muscogee County under a total watering ban, Columbus City Councilor Skip Henderson is backing a proposed ordinance to fine water wasters.

"It's really to heighten awareness of the issue, not just this issue, but if we have any future bans called for by the state," said Councilor Skip Henderson.

Under the proposed measure, violators will first be warned.

If they continue to water, the suggested fees range from $100 to $1,000 dollars, and eventually their water is turned off.

At Tuesday's meeting, several councilors raised concerns about those actions.

"I'd like to have some leeway because that's such a drastic measure, to cut off water service," said Councilor Julius Hunter.

"I have to say at this point, it's a little drastic and I want to cautiously move in the direction of getting a better understanding because I'm afraid of the message it may send to our citizens," said Councilor Glenn Davis.

Columbus Water Works Vice President Bob Tant says they already have a three strike warning system in place, and additional fines may be too much.

"I think about in terms of I may drive too fast on J.R. Allen Parkway and get a ticket, and I'll have to pay the fine, but they typically don't take my car away from me," said Tant.

Columbus city council decided to send the ordinance to the water board, who manages the city's water usage.

The board will meet on November 12th, and will look over the ordinance, and send it back to council with their recommendations.