Water restrictions eased from Phase III to Phase II for Tampa Bay area

News Release

h2. One-day-per-week watering limit remains

Editor's note: Contact Robyn Felix at Robyn.Felix@WaterMatters.org to receive a color map via email.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board voted today to ease water restrictions for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

The Board voted to lift the Modified Phase III (or Extreme) restrictions for the Tampa Bay area because Tampa Bay Water has made substantial progress in reducing its groundwater withdrawals in recent months. The regional water supply authority's annual average withdrawals had been exceeding its permit. With 13.85 billion gallons of water stored in the 15-billion-gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, Tampa Bay Water is expected to get within permit limits this month. The three-county area will now follow the District's Modified Phase II (or Severe) water restrictions.

The drought, however, is not over. "The effects of our four-year drought can still be seen in our lakes, rivers and groundwater," said Granville Kinsman, the District's Hydrologic Data Manager. "Forecasters are predicting above-normal rainfall through mid-spring, which could improve conditions. However, if we don't receive above-normal rainfall this winter, we can expect to see declines through May."

All counties in the District are now following Modified Phase II restrictions, except Marion County, which follows the St. John's River Water Management District's year-round measures.

Under the Phase II restrictions, lawn watering is limited to a once-per-week schedule and is limited to the hours of before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. for properties less than one acre. The restrictions apply to potable and non-potable water sources. Please see the attached table for a quick reference of current restrictions and requirements.

For more information about watering restrictions in your area, contact your local utility, or visit the District's web site at www.WaterMatters.org/restrictions/.

h2. Current Restrictions and Requirements Quick Reference

|_. Measure|_. Modified II|_. Modified III|
|=. Lawn watering|=. Once per week|=. Once per week|
|=. Maximum hours|=. 8 (14 if more than 1 acre)|=. 8 (14 if more than 2 acres)|
|=. Micro-irrigation|=. Any day, any time|=. Any day, before
8 am or after 6 pm|
|=. New Lawns|=. 30/30 establishment|=. 15/15 establishment|
|=. Large fountains|=. 8 hrs per day|=. 4 hrs per day|
|=. Pressure washing|=. Necessary purposes|=. Necessary purposes|
|=. Car washing|=. Once per week|=. Once per week|

"For more information visit our water restrictions page":/conservation/restrictions/

h2. Water Shortage Alert Map Additional Information

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

The color-coded Water Shortage Alert Map (attached) graphically identifies the status for each county in the District.

Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Levy, Citrus, Sumter, Hernando, Lake, Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties
Severe (Orange) Alert

These counties and portions of Marion County (City of Dunnellon and The Villages)
currently follow the District's Modified Phase II (or Severe) Water Shortage restrictions. Rainfall was within the normal range in November and has been above-normal in December. As a result, there were some temporary improvements to groundwater and area rivers, but declining trends have already begun again. Lakes remain well below normal. Above-normal rainfall will be required to fully restore conditions to pre-drought levels. Modified Phase II restrictions were first approved by the District's Governing Board in January 2007 and have been extended several times due to the ongoing drought impacts. These restrictions are currently scheduled to expire on February 28, 2010.