Taking into account the drained and under-construction C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, the agency that oversees water resources in much of West Central Florida declared a Phase II water shortage, meaning residents of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties can water their lawns only once a week instead of two.
Hydrologists say this time of year, most lawns don’t need more than one watering a week, though.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District governing board, at a meeting this morning, voted to implement the restrictions in the three counties. Restrictions become effective the day after Christmas and will continue until March 1.
With the reservoir being repaired and unable to hold the 15.5 billion gallons it gets from the nearby Alafia River, governing board members voiced concern about fresh water reserves in the three counties. Typically during the rainy season, some of the flow in the river is diverted to the reservoir to store for the dry winter season. But with the project to repair the lining of the reservoir ongoing this year, that was not done.
Under the Phase II restrictions, lawn watering is allowed only once a week under reduced hours. Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas still are allowed any day.
“We are asking residents to be prudent with their water use, especially outdoor irrigation, at this time,” said District Chairman Carlos Beruff in a news release announcing the restrictions. “During the winter months you can often skip a week or more, as most lawns and landscape plants do not need as much water.”
Twice-a-week lawn watering schedules remain in effect for the other 13 counties in the district which stretches between Charlotte to Marion counties.
Tampa Water Department officials this afternoon wasted no time in telling residents about the newly imposed restrictions and released the following schedule for watering lawns:
• Addresses ending in 0 or 1 may irrigate on Mondays.
• Addresses ending in 2 or 3 may irrigate on Tuesdays.
• Addresses ending in 4 or 5 may irrigate on Wednesdays.
• Addresses ending in 6 or 7 may irrigate on Thursdays.
• Addresses ending in 8 or 9 may irrigate on Fridays.
“As we move into our dry season, river levels are declining, our rainfall has been below average and Tampa’s supplemental water provider, Tampa Bay Water, has its regional reservoir offline for repairs,” said Brad Baird, Tampa Water Department director, in a statement released today. “Moving to a once-a-week irrigation schedule and voluntarily reducing other water uses where possible is the smart thing to do.”
In addition to irrigation, officials have implemented the following restrictions on outdoor recreational water use:
• The use of sprinklers or sprinkler-like devices for recreational purposes is restricted to watering days and times for the location where they are in use.
• The use of wading pools, water slides or other child-oriented recreation devices must discharge or empty onto lawn or landscape requiring irrigation.
The use of reclaimed water is not affected by the increased watering restrictions, city officials said.
The department urged residents to review their irrigation practices and to check to make sure their irrigation systems include a properly functioning rain-sensing device.
More information about the restrictions are available online at tampagov.net/SaveWater or by calling (813) 274-8121. A recorded summary of the restrictions is available 24-hours-a-day on the Water Conservation Hotline at (813) 274-8032.