ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Over the next three years, Orange County will spend $1.2 million on a program to educate people on how to use less water and police those that use too much. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs scoffed at my suggestion that they be called the water police.
"It's an education process. I think our citizens, you know, most of them really want to do the right thing. I don't look at it as a police. I look at it more of hopefully a friendly reminder."
Mayor Jacobs actually knows the long standing program first hand after replacing her lawn several years ago.
"I have to confess. I was one of those people that happened to me many years ago when we had a power outage. We were either watering on the wrong day, or watering in the middle of the day. We got a little note saying 'by the way'."
Orange County already charges a massive fee once water usage soars beyond what it should for property owners. We asked the Mayor why that is not enough?
"Well, for some people it is. For other people it isn't."
The county program is $400,000 per year and goes far beyond just a note and a higher bill. The county has a mobile water lab that will show up at a home where too much water is being used and test the system. The county will tell you why so much water is being used and offer for free equipment to help people save money. Things like timers, rain sensors, timer nozzles for hoses and more. Mayor Jacobs bought many of these things for her own yard, and says it is saving her family money.
"It is amazing the stuff that it out there. I mean just the difference between a system that drips water around your shrubs versus one that sprays. You get much more water into your plants than if you are spraying, because spraying is hitting the leaves. It is bouncing all over. It is not getting where it needs to go."
The county also uses the money to host Florida Friendly Landscape workshops and irrigation workshops. Central Florida homes are only allowed to water once a week between November and the second week in March.