The San Antonio Water system is reporting fewer citations and warnings for violating outdoor watering rules this year than in the past two years, but concerned citizens say the utility is missing many commercial customers that waste water.
From May 1 through July 12, the utility issued 1,017 citations and 1,852 warnings.
But that's fewer than the number of citations and warnings given out in 2012 and far fewer than 2011.
Karen Guz, SAWS Conservation Director, said that is positive news.
"On the whole, our officers are catching fewer people," Guz said.
She said the reason is more people are following the rules.
"We've been in drought a long time so people have had a long time to know their watering day and get a sense of what the rules are," Guz said.
Yet violators -- specifically commercial properties -- continue to send water gushing into streets, onto sidewalks and across parking lots, according to concerned citizen Robert Holmes.
"They're the chronic ones,” Holmes said. “They're the ones that constantly and repetitively do it and it's just too much water."
Holmes could be called a water waster vigilante. He has reported an apartment complex where water mysteriously floods a service drive, a shopping center where the parking lot is watered as much as the grass and an office complex. And he’s reported numerous other businesses numerous times.
Holmes said SAWS is doing a good job but change is needed.
"I think the fines need to be stiffened for the businesses. I think that's really where it begins," Holmes said. “A thousand dollar fine for an individual is a lot of money. A thousand dollar fine for a business is not. It's a business decision.”
Guz agreed that not everyone has paid as close attention to water use as Holmes has.
"It's frustrating that there are a few customers out there who don't respond as quickly as the rest," Guz said.
Still, she said, millions of gallons of water have been saved because of conservation.
SAWS does have 24 part-time police officers who are helping out at all times of the day and night. There is also a special team this summer that is dedicated to following up on water waste complaints.
To report a water waster, residents can call 704-save or go online at saws.org/waterwaste.