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Rockland County under strict mandatory water restrictions, with penalties looming for those who don't abide

Rockland County under mandatory water restrictions
Rockland County under mandatory water restrictions 02:34

NYACK, N.Y. -- Drought dilemmas are intensifying in Rockland County, with leaders saying already at least one significant well field had to be shut down.

As of Thursday, the whole county is under strict mandatory water restrictions.

CBS2's John Dias has more on what it all means, and how much it could cost you if you don't follow the rules.

"It has just been horrible," said Joy Macy, owner of Blue Field Farm.

READ MOREConcern grows as severe drought conditions take over in eastern part of Orange County

Macy said the drought is drying up the flowers she grows and sells, and soon it could dry up some business.

"Things aren't growing as full as they usually are. Some of the flowers are smaller. Things are wilting," Macy said.

She's far from alone. Many vendors at the Nyack Farmers Market said their concerns are growing faster than their crops. Records show all of Rockland is under some form of a drought.

"We got about 250 raindrops yesterday, not enough to give us what we need. We can use a good week of rain," said Sam Kleinberg, farm hand at the Orchards of Concklin.

Due to the lack of rain, and low levels in area waterways, Rockland County declared a Stage 2 water alert and a drought rate earlier this week, leading to emergency orders issued Thursday, which limit water usage.

That means water won't be served in restaurants unless customers request it.

"Now we have to wait for them to ask us? Yeah, which is kind of weird, because every time they sit down, 'Do you want water?'" said Bernard Bohunicky, manager of Art Cafe in Nyack.

Driving through Rockland, Mobile 2 video shows plenty of lawns dried up, and the mandatory water restrictions now mean they can only be watered twice a week -- odd-numbered addresses on Mondays and Thursdays and even-numbers on Tuesdays and Fridays.

"We need the water for us, for our consumption, so I think that's more important than the lawn," Nyack resident Carmen Brown said.

"It's a little scary. It hadn't rained in a while," another resident said.

READ MOREResidents in parts of Connecticut, Long Island asked to limit water usage

Sam Rulli is the county's director of environmental health.

"We do need to reduce demands to make sure that we can stretch the other sources," Rulli said.

He said enforcement of the rules usually starts with warnings, but penalties could reach up to $2,000 per day, per violation.

"When we need to step up and ramp up fines, it will be made kind of on a day-to-day basis as the urgency of the situation may progress," Rulli said.

All these restrictions will remain in effect until county leaders decide they're no longer necessary. So for the sake of flowers and the lawns, hopefully it won't be too long.

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul expanded the state's drought watch to most New York counties, so, soon, other counties could experience similar restrictions as Rockland.

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