Fines threatened as mandatory water restrictions go ignored in Brunswick, New Hanover counties

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Running your water this week? Better watch your consumption as fines are now being threatened to cut down usage while a water main is being repaired.
Running your water this week in either New Hanover or Brunswick County? Better watch your consumption as fines are now being threatened to cut down usage while a water main is being repaired.

After mandatory water restrictions were established last week for all Brunswick County Public Utilities and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers, the companies have not seen drops in usage, and officials are turning to enforcement.

During this time, customers are not allowed to do any outside irrigation of plants, lawns, trees and other greenery. At-home car washing is also banned, as is the topping off of swimming pools. Officials are also asking customers to lessen their water usage inside homes through measures such as taking showers instead of baths and not running taps unless necessary.

Businesses are also under the restrictions. Restaurants are only allowed to serve tap water by request, and commercial car washing is allowed only if it is necessary for the vehicles to operate safely.

In Brunswick County, where a raw water main owned by the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority broke Thursday and led to the restrictions, a release sent out Monday afternoon said a decrease in water usage by all Brunswick County Public Utilities is critical so that water can be reserved for medical needs and drinking water.

“Officials are cracking down on Brunswick County Public Utilities customers who are not adhering to mandatory water restrictions,” the release stated. “Compliance with mandatory restrictions is being enforced.”

Those who do not comply could receive a written warning for a first offense, a $100 fine for a second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense. Following that, violators risk having their services cut off.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, which services the City of Wilmington and much of New Hanover County, also has the same measures in place for its residential and commercial customers. It, too, enacted mandatory restrictions following the water main break on Thursday, but Chief Communications Officer Mike McGill said verbal notifications have not amounted to much so far.

“We’re not seeing a drop in usage at this time,” McGill said Monday afternoon. “We need to see a significant drop.”

According to McGill, “enforcement actions” will be taken starting Tuesday. CFPUA customers found violating the restriction for the first time will be given a written warning on record, followed by civil penalties that could cost up to $500 in fines per day for subsequent violations.

“If civil penalties are not successful, then termination of services will occur,” McGill said.

The restrictions will be in place until further notice. The broken water main is expected to be completely fixed sometime next week.

According to both public utility groups, water quality has not been affected by the break, and there are no boil water advisories in effect.