June 28, 2007

Emergency watering restrictions may be extended past July 31 deadline

A continuing rainfall deficit reaffirms the need to maintain emergency watering restrictions, resolved the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board this week.

At its next meeting on July 31 the Board will consider extending the one-day watering restrictions which are due to expire that day.

Rainfall for the last 12 months remains down more than 12 inches from normal, while June precipitation Districtwide was only 60 percent of normal. Most of the rivers in the District were flowing at “extremely low” rates for this time of year while lakes are averaging up to five feet below anticipated seasonal levels. (For more information and graphics on rainfall and river flows, visit the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/weather/.)

“We need significantly above average rainfall to pull ourselves out of this drought. Currently, we’re not even getting average rainfall,” said Granville Kinsman, District Hydrologic Data manager.

Water resources in west-central Florida follow a cycle. The District historically receives about 60 percent of its annual rainfall from June-September, which fill up the water resources. These levels gradually decline over the eight-month dry season until the next rainy season recharges the resources.

Public water suppliers also use this rainy season to fill up storage like reservoirs that can be used for the dry season.

While normal summer rainfall would be helpful this year, it wouldn’t be enough to restore the resources to normal seasonal water levels or allow public suppliers to fully recharge their dry season storage. If the District begins October with lower than normal water levels, even a normal dry season will result in more serious water supply concerns than those seen this year.

“We could end up in a situation as serious as or worse than the historic 2000-2001 drought,” Kinsman said.

Extending watering restrictions could help save water that can be stored for the next dry season. The Governing Board Tuesday called for local governments to maximize water restriction enforcement efforts.


 
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