June 23, 2009

Tampa Bay Water service area remains at highest alert level

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted to continue the Modified Phase IV (or Critical) Water Shortage restrictions for potable water use in the Tampa Bay Water service area until July 31, 2009.

The Board also voted to extend Phase III restrictions for Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties until July 31, 2009 and to extend the Phase II restrictions for the remaining counties until Sept. 30, 2009.

“While the region is out of the immediate crisis, we are still contending with the effects of the long-term drought,” said David Moore, District executive director. “The May rainfall helped but the summer rainy season hasn’t begun. We’re going to monitor conditions closely over the next month before easing any of the restrictions.”

The Tampa Bay Water’s six member governments include Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties as well as the cities of Tampa, New Port Richey and St. Petersburg.

Cities and private utilities that receive water from one of the six member governments must also follow the restrictions. The cities include, Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Largo, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Seminole, Treasure Island, Clearwater, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Port Richey, Safety Harbor, South Pasadena and Tarpon Springs. Residents who receive water from Pebble Creek Utilities and Aloha Utilities in Pasco County must also follow the Phase IV restrictions. Belleair and Zephyrhills are voluntarily following the Phase IV restrictions.

Under the revised Phase IV order, lawn watering remains limited to the same once-per-week schedule from midnight to 4 a.m. for properties less than one acre. Please see the attached Phase IV fact sheet for the complete list of revised restrictions and requirements.

Residents in the three-county area using other sources of water, such as private well water or water from other utilities, remain under Modified Phase III restrictions declared in October 2008.

The District identifies four possible levels of water shortage, beginning with “moderate” and increasing in intensity through “severe,” “extreme” and “critical.”

With some river flows and lake levels remaining below normal, the region’s water shortage status ranges from “severe” to “critical.” The District’s color-coded Water Shortage Alert Map (attached) graphically identifies the status for each county in the District.

Tampa Bay Region
Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties
Critical (Black) Alert

Customers of several water utilities in the tri-county Tampa Bay area will remain under the District’s Modified Phase IV (or Critical) Water Shortage restrictions. While the region did receive above normal rainfall in May and aquifer levels are in the low normal range, lakes are still averaging about 2.48 feet below the lowest normal readings. Although river flows rebounded into the normal range in response to the May rain, these flows have been declining in recent weeks. Tampa Bay Water only recently started refilling its 15-billion-gallon reservoir. Tampa Bay Water and Aloha Utilities needed to heavily pump wellfields to meet demand this spring, causing them to exceed pumping limits that are intended to provide environmental protection.

Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority Region
Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties
Extreme (Red) Alert

The four-county area remains under the District’s Modified Phase III (or Extreme) Water Shortage restrictions. While the region did receive above normal rainfall in May and aquifer levels are in the low normal range, lakes are still averaging between two and five feet below the lowest normal readings. Although the Peace River is currently experiencing normal flows, these flows have declined in recent weeks.

The area will continue to follow the Phase III restrictions, which were approved by the Governing Board in February. In addition to continuing to restrict lawn
watering to one-day-per-week, the Phase III order calls for local governments to strictly enforce the rules. These restrictions are in effect until July 31, 2009. Please see the attached Phase III fact sheet for the list of restrictions.

Remaining Counties (see map)
Severe (Orange) Alert

The remaining counties in the District continue to follow the District’s Modified Phase II (or Severe) Water Shortage restrictions. The aquifer is in the normal range, however some river flows and lakes are still below normal levels. The Phase II restrictions were approved by the District’s Governing Board in January 2007 and have been extended several times due to the ongoing drought impacts. District water restrictions include limiting lawn watering to a maximum of one day per week.

In addition to following restrictions, residents are also urged to continue conserving water in other ways indoors and outdoors at their homes and businesses. Residents should consider turning off their irrigation systems when it rains before their next watering day. With outdoor irrigation accounting for as much as 50 percent of residential water usage, skipping a week of water can result in a significant water savings.

These restrictions are in effect until Sept. 30, 2009.

For more information about watering restrictions in your area, contact your local utility, or visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/restrictions/.

 
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