District Declares Expanded Phase I Water Shortage

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted today to modify its existing Phase I water shortage, expanding it to cover the District’s entire 16-county area beginning May 8. 

Under Phase I, water utilities and their local governments are expected to review and revise water restriction enforcement procedures, begin monthly enforcement reporting and communicate with customers about water restrictions and water conservation. 

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The Phase I alert is intended to raise the public’s awareness, and to direct water utilities and their local governments to prepare for worsening drought conditions. 

There are no changes to watering days or times in Phase I, but there is a general restriction prohibiting any wasteful or unnecessary water use, such as allowing water to run from an unattended garden hose. 

The District considers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare a water shortage order – that means, restricting the amount of water the public can use. For the past 20 years, the District has worked diligently with our partners to develop alternative water supplies. Even though the District is experiencing drought conditions, there is adequate water supply available to the public.

Under the District’s year-round water conservation measures, unless further restricted by local ordinances, lawn and landscape watering is already limited to a two-day-per-week schedule, and residents may only water before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Some local governments such as Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties have stricter local ordinances limiting lawn watering to one day per week, so residents and businesses should always check with their local government or water utility before changing their irrigation timer.

“Residents and businesses should test their irrigation systems and fix any leaks, broken pipes, damaged or tilted heads, faulty rain or soil sensors, and excessive irrigation times. If their water bills have gone up, they should check for plumbing and toilet problems, too,” said Lois Sorensen, District demand management program manager. “If the drought continues to intensify, there is a possibility we will need to impose severe restrictions later.”

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