updated 2/4/2010 10:36:06 AM ET 2010-02-04T15:36:06

Water levels are dropping quickly in several Caribbean countries, prompting officials to limit availability and impose restrictions as the region enters its dry season.

In Trinidad, people caught watering their gardens or washing their cars face fines and court appearances, said Ellen Lewis, Water and Sewage Authority spokeswoman.

"It is the first time since 1998 that the authority has decided to rigidly enforce the law," she said.

The agency also is cutting the amount of water it releases from the main reservoir by one-third, from 75 million gallons to 50 million gallons a day, CEO Jim Lee Leung told reporters Wednesday.

Meteorologists had forecast 3.4 inches of rain for January, but only 1.3 inches fell, he said.

In Guyana, the government recently spent nearly $2 million to irrigate crops and install water pumps in certain areas, said Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud.

Meanwhile, dry riverbeds have crippled mining operations in the South American country's interior.

Violet Smith, a spokeswoman for Toronto-based Guyana Goldfields, said costs have increased because ships can no longer navigate jungle rivers carrying fuel, miners and supplies.

"Huge rocks are now exposed in rivers because of the levels," she said. "We have to find alternative ways to supply our camps."

Boats also are getting stuck in waterways, forcing miners to suspend operations and wait out the drought in urban areas.

"I think production has been cut by at least 10 percent and growing," said miner Fred McWilfred. "We are starting to feel the full effects of drought."

In Jamaica, water levels at two of the island's main reservoirs are half of normal, according to National Water Commission spokeswoman Karen Williams. Officials have warned residents in the southern region of daily water disruptions until the drought eases.

The drought, which local meteorologists say was worsened by the lack of rain in November and December, is expected to extend into late March.

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