Despite the rains and heavy storms driving through the area today, it's not enough to keep the underground aquifer filled.
That's what the board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District decided today, moving to increase water restrictions.
Here's the word from SWFMUD:
Due to below normal rainfall, reduced river levels and increasing water supply concerns, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted today to increase water restrictions in the Tampa Bay area. Even though December rainfall was near normal for our region, rainfall in January and February was 3.5 inches below normal.
The Governing Board enacted Phase III restrictions for lawn watering, car washing and fountain use in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. The tighter restrictions begin March 13th and take into account that Tampa Bay Water’s C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir is currently under renovation, meaning the utility is relying on its desalination plant and regional wellfields to meet public demand in the coming months. Tampa Bay Water is the wholesale water supplier for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county water utilities as well as the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey.
Under the Phase III restrictions, the allowable lawn and landscape watering schedule is reduced to once-per-week on a specified day based on address. Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas still are allowed any day; but like all irrigation, such activity must now occur only during designated hours (before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. unless otherwise specified by a stricter local ordinance). Car washing is limited to once per week, and fountain operation will be limited to four hours per day. These restrictions apply to well, pond and canal water sources in addition to city or county water supplies. See fact sheet for more details on these restrictions.
There are no changes to the Phase I restrictions currently in place for other water uses, including agricultural irrigation, golf course operations, industrial processes, or pressure washing activities.
“For the last several months, we’ve watched the conditions decline, said Chairman Paul Senft. If we do not receive significant rainfall in the coming months, we may have to extend these restrictions into other areas of the District. We ask residents to be conservative with their water use, especially outdoor irrigation.”
Phase I restrictions remain the same in Charlotte, Citrus, Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter Counties. The City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County also remain under Phase I restrictions. Other portions of Marion County and the City of Ocala follow restrictions set by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
For additional information about water restrictions and water conservation, please contact your local utility or visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/restrictions/.