ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The water utility that serves New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area is invoking its annual watering restrictions.

Officials with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority say the time-of-day water rules will remain in effect from April 1 through October 31.

The rules prohibit customers from using sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to minimize losses to wind and evaporation. Those who water during prohibited times face could fines.

Conservation program manager Carlos Bustos said Friday the rules are especially important this year as New Mexico is in a severe drought.

Overall, per capita use per day in 2017 was 128 gallons. That’s the target again this year, and utility officials say so far customers have used about 30 million gallons less than during the same period last year.