Yesterday, the Las Vegas Water District announced that nearly 60,000 customers -- about 1 in 6 total households -- are being fined for misuse/overuse of the desert's most precious resource, water.

The fines, levied at the top water abusers via a new law, total $12.8 million. Some of the fined customers use as much as two and three times the amount of average households. An average household of 3-4 people uses approximately 11,000 gallons of water per month. Several of the worst abusers in the Las Vegas area were using upwards of 27,000 gallons of water per month.

Officials from the LVWD, who said "price drives water use," passed the ordinance last fall and the fines began taking effect Jan. 1.

So are fines coming to Utah and specifically Washington County anytime soon?

"It's a possibility, but we prefer education first, because it has worked," said Washington County commissioner Adam Snow while on the Andy Griffin Show Tuesday. "Washington County did a massive education campaign and while we grew five percent (in population), we went down four million gallons of water."

In the summer months, Washington County residents do use between 25,000 and 30,000 gallons of water a month, but that number shrinks to 6,000-7,000 gallons a month when the weather cools, according to Washington County Water District general manager Zach Renstrom.

The year-round average is about 16,000 gallons per month in our county.

Renstrom added that the new homes being built are held to a much stricter standard of water usage and "new homes built today use around 10,000 gallons a month," even in the hottest months of July and August.

So, for now, there will be no fines for excess water usage in the county.

The fee schedule for water usage is still graduated (the more you use, the higher the rate), but Washington County residents can rest assured no fines will be coming their way.

At least not yet.

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