People in Fairmont who spent a whole summer either enjoying or lamenting the drought probably were somewhat taken aback this week to learn they suddenly had to stop using water for non-essential purposes, such as watering their lawns, washing their cars, sprinkling golf courses, etc. Given the falling lake levels in Fairmont, the ban is not surprising, but it came without much warning.
The City Council weighed whether to give people a week to adjust to the news. However, with the state Department of Natural Resources breathing down the city's neck, this became less of an option.
The city is giving people a bit of a break. Residents will get one warning if they are caught using water for non-essential uses. After that, the first violation is $50. The fine jumps to $100 for additional tickets.
We agree with Councilman Wes Clerc, who thought the city would have been wiser to have instituted a non-essential use ban earlier in the season. He noted that it is a bit strange for government to make such a sudden shift in policy. Other council members joined his call to allow more time to get the word out about the ban. However, it's also not wise to try to fight state bureaucrats who would be happy to fine the city for non-compliance.
We hope residents will now react and comply with the ban. If residents fail to conserve water and the drought continues, further restrictions on water usage could apply.