CBSN

OK, Drop That Hose

The lush green suburban lawn is under siege in much of the country, withering in record heat and drought. Suburban Boston now finds itself in the grip of a crime wave, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Geist. The crime, of course, is illegal lawn watering.

In the town of Rockland, sprinklers are banned, and residents are restricted to just one hour of watering by hand every other day, on alternating sides of the street.

That means that one of the two normal-looking women watering their lawns across the street from each other is really an outlaw.

And she is hardly alone. Â"The flowers are thirsty. IÂ'm going to sneak out and water them," says one man.

Town manager Dan Calahan is the Norman Schwarzkopf of RocklandÂ's war on the water abusers.

Calls come in from anonymous tipsters as neighbor turns against neighbor. No bounties have been offered yet.

"The reports we've had have been frustration. 'I have a nice lawn and IÂ'm watching it wilt away, and my neighborÂ's lawn is green and gorgeous,'" says Calahan.

Bill Royal, meter reader turned lawn cop, answers the call of a watering in progress. Â"We have a water ban in effect,Â" he says to the perpetrator. Busted.

This time, it's a housewife. Repeat offenders will have all water to their homes completely shut off -- a tough scorched earth policy.

Another call comes in. The suspect sprinkling system is off but the lawn has a guilty look. Â"Looks like theyÂ've been watering a lot,Â" says Royal.

One minute, a corporate office. The next, a kiddie pool. Water abusers start young in Rockland, and they never rest.

Fortunately, neither does Water Enforcement Officer Bill Royal.