June 26, 2012

While tropical storms Beryl and Debby provided record rains to the region, they were not enough to restore hydrologic conditions to normal.

That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted today to extend its Modified Phase III water shortage order.

Phase III restrictions were extended until July 31 for Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy and Sumter counties as well as the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County.

Under Phase III, lawn and landscape watering is limited to once per week. 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.

While the northern region did see rainfall from tropical storms Beryl and Debby, key hydrologic indicators remain below normal in the region due to long-term drought effects. The region needs above-normal precipitation throughout the rainy season for the area to totally recover from drought conditions.

“The District looks at an eight-week average of river flows to evaluate recovery instead of one weather event,” said Lois Sorensen, District demand management program manager. “While recent rains improved conditions in the northern counties, we need to see continued above-normal rains to return to more flexible Phase I restrictions by the end of July.”

For example, groundwater rose to the low end of the normal range earlier this month in response to Tropical Storm Beryl but started to decline again before the area received rain from Tropical Storm Debby. Sustained normal groundwater levels are needed in the northern region before river flows will stay in the normal range.

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

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

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