Water restrictions eased for Southern counties

News Release

Restrictions eased for Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties

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 Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties.

The Board voted to lift the Phase III restrictions for the Southern counties in the District due to improvements in public water supply storage as a result of summer rainfall. This coincided with the opening of a new 6-billion-gallon reservoir which has enhanced the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority's ability to store river water for later use. As a result, the four-county area will now follow the District's Modified Phase II (or Severe) water restrictions.

The drought, however, is not over. "October is the first month of our eight month dry season, and has been even drier than normal," said Granville Kinsman, the District's Hydrologic Data Manager. "The effects of our four-year drought can still be seen in our lakes, streams and groundwater. Unless we receive above-normal rainfall this winter, further declines are expected through May."

The Tampa Bay region is still following modified Phase III restrictions while the remaining counties in the District continue to follow modified Phase II restrictions.

Under both the Phases II and III water shortage orders, 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 "WaterMatters.org/restrictions/":http://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: lawns under 2 acres|=. 8|=. 8|
|=. Maximum hours: lawns over 2 acres|=. 14|=. 8|
|=. 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 (above) graphically identifies the status for each county in the District.

*Tampa Bay Region*
*Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties*
*Extreme (Red) Alert*

All residents in the tri-county Tampa Bay area must follow the District's Modified Phase III (or Extreme) Water Shortage restrictions. These restrictions are currently scheduled to remain in effect through December 31, 2009. The region has received below-normal rainfall in October. Aquifer levels remain in the normal range but are declining. Lake levels are averaging about 0.15 foot below the lowest normal readings. Daily river flow is now below normal on the Hillsborough River, but remains within the normal range on the Alafia River. Flows are declining.

*Remaining Counties*

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

These counties currently follow the District's Modified Phase II (or Severe) Water Shortage restrictions. Rainfall has been below-normal during October. The aquifer is now below the normal range, and is declining. River flows and lakes are also below normal and declining. 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.