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April 24, 2012

Phase III Could Be Declared for Tampa Bay Area if Conditions Worsen

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted today to give the District’s executive director the authority to issue an emergency order to increase water restrictions in the Tampa Bay area if conditions continue to worsen.

Executive Director Blake Guillory is expected to declare a Modified Phase III order for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties if Tampa Bay Water activates the third level of its water shortage mitigation plan before the Governing Board’s May meeting.

Under Phase III water shortage restrictions, lawn and landscape watering would be reduced to once per week.

Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy and Sumter counties as well as the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County currently are already under a Modified Phase III order. A Modified Phase I order currently is in effect for the remaining counties in the district’s region, including the Tampa Bay area.

This year’s drier than normal conditions following last year’s below-average rainfall have caused low water levels throughout the District. The emergency order could become necessary if drought conditions continue to worsen and affect public water supplies.

Some factors contributing to the water shortage are:

  • Six straight months of below-normal rainfall. Since the dry season started in October, 11.7 inches of rain were recorded Districtwide. About 18 inches is normal for the dry season to date.
  • Districtwide winter rainfall (estimated from January – March rainfall totals) was only 3.77 inches when 8.75 inches is the long-term average. This is the 11th driest winter since records started being kept in 1915.
  • A period-of-record low lake level was recorded on Lake Lindsey in Hernando
    County and Lake Iola in Pasco County in March.
  • Weekly record low-flow conditions have been recorded on the Withlacoochee, Alafia and Peace rivers.

Until the order is enacted, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties remain under Phase I.

Counties 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.

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

 
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