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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – With all of North Texas experiencing a deep drought, almost every week you hear about different cities cracking down on water usage. But CBS 11 News has learned that in many places the restrictions are nothing but an empty threat.

With millions of people, and thousands of businesses, in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Denton you might expect thousands of water violation citations written – but that isn’t the case.

The City of Arlington literally hangs the warning on a door if they find someone in violation. So while the threat is there, with the exception of one office building, there were no citations issued last year. In fact, the Arlington water conservation program coordinator says the city is no longer even considers writing tickets.

A green lawn requires care.

“We’re lucky because we’ve been able to keep it this way,” explained North Texas homeowner Jan Knox.

Knox doesn’t expect to face a fine from the City of Arlington, but she also adheres to the twice-weekly restriction. “I know my watering days are Wednesday and Saturday.” But she says not all of the businesses in her part of town follow the rules.

A public records request shows that with the exception of one property on Medlin Drive, the cities of Arlington, Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth haven’t issued a single water violation citation in the last year.

David Marquis, with the Texas Conservation Alliance, said, “I think we would encourage cities to take a look at their ordinances. And [decide if] their ordinances are achieving what they want them to.”

Marquis also thinks cities are finding success through education, rather than punishment. He thinks water violation warning allow people to correct the issue.

“They want to know if someone is overusing water, but they don’t want to hit them with a huge fine or take them to court. They want to educate them and help them understand.”

That may be what is happening in the City of Dallas. The water conservation manager there says usage is down 22-percent since water restrictions first went into effect.

Back in Arlington, know said her son-in-law just got a warning the other day.

Officials in the city say they give people 10 days to come into compliance — if they don’t and aren’t willing to recognize the rules, the city has the ability to shut their water off as a last resort.

But if you live in Collin County it pays to follow the water rules. CBS 11 learned some cities there are far more likely to crack down on violators.

Officials in Plano said there have been more than 852 violations there since June 1, 2013. Those fines brought in some $128,000.

The City of Allen took in more than $107,000 from 524 citations and McKinney collected nearly $30,000 on 571 violations.

Neither Frisco nor Garland handed out any citations.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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