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February 28, 2012

Five counties within the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s region are now under a Modified Phase III water shortage order due to below normal rainfall this winter.

The District’s Governing Board voted today to declare the Phase III order for northern counties in the District’s region which are: Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy, and Sumter as well as the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County. A Modified Phase I alert remains in effect for the remaining counties in the District’s region.

Under Phase III, lawn and landscape watering will be reduced to once per week starting March 10 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, it must occur before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

Groundwater and surface water conditions continue to experience a downward trend based on lack of rainfall. Generally, conditions are worse in the five most northern counties than other regions of the District.

Water utilities and other large users in the northern counties don’t have access to water stored in reservoirs and aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wellfields like utilities operated in the central and southern counties of the District.

Phase III also includes restrictions for other water use activities. For example, pressure washing for aesthetic purposes will be prohibited. Residents also can wash vehicles only once per week.

The Phase III order gives local enforcement agencies the power to immediately issue citations instead of warnings for first offenses.

“Groundwater levels have been critically below normal for more than 12 weeks now, and river and lake levels are so low that some boat ramps have been closed,” said Lois Sorensen, District demand management program manager. “Everyone needs to do their part.”

Counties remaining under the Phase I order continue to follow the District’s year-round water conservation measures. That means lawn and landscape watering remains limited to a two-day-per-week schedule and residents only may water before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Phase I counties are: Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota.

However, some local governments under Phase I have stricter local ordinances limiting watering to one day per week. Residents should check with their local government or utility.

For additional information about water restrictions and water conservation, please contact your local utility or visit the District’s website at


Modified Phase III (Extreme) Water Shortage Restrictions

Effective Dates and Affected Areas
• Modified Phase III water shortage restrictions are scheduled to begin on March 10, 2012 and expire on June 30, 2012.
• The restrictions affect Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Lake and Levy counties as well as the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County.

Lawn Watering Schedule and Times
• Lawn watering is limited to a once-per-week schedule. The following is a schedule and summary of the restrictions unless your city or county has a different once-per-week schedule or more stringent restrictions.

Addresses with “house numbers” … May only irrigate on …
Ending in 0 or 1  Monday 
Ending in 2 or 3  Tuesday 
Ending in 4 or 5  Wednesday 
Ending in 6 or 7  Thursday 
Ending in 8 or 9  Friday 

• Unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect, the allowable watering hours are before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. regardless of property size.

Landscape Watering Schedule and Times
• Handwatering and micro-irrigation of plants (other than lawns) can be done on any day, but is limited to the hours of before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

New Lawns & Plants
• New lawns and plants have a 60-day establishment period. On days 1-30, they may be watered any day of the week. During days 31-60, they may be watered approximately every other day. Even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Odd-numbered addresses may be watered on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

• Fountains and other aesthetic water features may only operate four hours per day. The regular hours of operation can be selected by the owner, but must be posted (see list of exemptions such as water features that also provide aerification to koi ponds at

Car Washing
• Car washing is limited to once per week on the designated watering day for the location.
• Fundraiser and commercial car washes, including mobile detailing businesses, may still operate on any day.
• Emergency and other first responder vehicles may still be washed on any day as needed.

Pressure Washing
• Pressure washing is allowed for necessary purposes such as prior to painting or sealing, in order to maintain a paint or material warranty, to address a health or safety hazard and to comply with health laws.
• Aesthetic concerns, even those raised by an HOA in accordance with its deed restrictions, do not constitute a “necessary” purpose.

Water Utilities and Other Local Enforcement Agencies
• Use automatic meter reading or weekly night patrols to monitor compliance where restriction violations or high-use single family residential accounts are concentrated.
• Issue citations without needing to have first issued a warning.

Other Water Utility Responsibilities (Does not apply to water utilities who are allowed to withdraw less than 100,000 gallons per day)

Utilities must:
• Provide a concise monthly system status report, including enforcement.
• Continue implementing customer messaging and other water conservation efforts.
• Plan for supplementation of potable supplies, including coordination with the District and other agencies as appropriate.
• Notify the District within 24 hours if the public supply system experiences a significant change in status.

Other Water Uses
• Restaurants shall only serve water upon request.
• Agricultural operations, commercial establishments, golf courses and industrial facilities must also comply with applicable best management practices listed in the Water Shortage Order.

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