Lower-than-normal rainfall has led the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s governing board to declare a Modified Phase 1 Water Shortage.
The restrictions apply to all of Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter counties; portions of Charlotte, Highlands and Lake counties; the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County; and the portion of Gasparilla Island in Lee County from Nov. 21, 2023 through July 1, 2024.
The area within the Southwest Florida Water Management District has received lower than normal rainfall during its summer rainy season and currently has a 9.2-inch districtwide rainfall deficit compared to the average 12-month total, according to the Water Management District’s news release.
Water levels in the Water Management District’s water resources, such as aquifers, rivers and lakes, also are beginning to decline, the release says.
The Modified Phase I Water Shortage Order does not change allowable watering schedules for most counties, however it does prohibit “wasteful and unnecessary” water use and twice-per-week lawn watering schedules remain in effect except where stricter measures have been imposed by local governments.
Residents are asked to check their irrigation systems to ensure they are working properly. This means testing and repairing broken pipes and leaks, and fixing damaged or tilted sprinkler heads.
Residents should also check their irrigation timer to ensure the settings are correct and the rain sensor is working properly.
Also, beginning Dec. 1, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will be limited to once-per-week lawn watering. These additional restrictions are needed because Tampa Bay Water, which supplies water to most of the three-county area, was unable to completely refill the 15-billion-gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir this summer due to the lower-than-normal rainfall.
Once-per-week lawn watering days and times are as follows, unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours in effect (Citrus, Hernando and Sarasota counties, and the cities of Dunedin and Venice, have local ordinances that remain on one-day-per-week schedules):
If your address ends in:
- 0 or 1, water only on Monday
- 2 or 3, water only on Tuesday
- 4 or 5, water only on Wednesday
- 6 or 7: water only on Thursday
- 8, 9 and locations without a discernible address, water only on Friday
Also, unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect, properties under 2 acres may only water before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
For properties larger than 2 acres, unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect, watering may only occur before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Low-volume watering of plants and shrubs, through micro-irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-watering is allowed any day and any time.
The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the Water Management District.
The water management district continues to work closely with Tampa Bay Water to ensure a sustainable water supply for the Tampa Bay region, the release says.
For more information, WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.
For tips on conserving water, visit WaterMatters.org/Water101.
Published November 22, 2023