District Declares Severe Water Shortage

Dave Moore signing order for watering restrictions

Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director David L. Moore this month declared a modified Phase II Severe Water Shortage that restricts lawn watering to one day per week throughout the 16-county District.

The restrictions apply to the use of water from public and private water utilities, as well as the use of all wells and surface water sources (ponds, rivers, etc.). The order went into effect January 16 and will remain in place until July 31 unless otherwise modified or rescinded by the executive director or the District Governing Board.

“It’s disturbing to see such low water levels this early in the dry season. We need to act now to be prepared for the spring when water levels are at their lowest prior to the rainy season,” Moore said. “We need everyone’s help to do what they can to preserve our precious water resources. Working together, we can meet our water supply challenges while also protecting the environment.”

The decision followed a lengthy presentation by staff outlining the depressed hydrologic conditions. Every county in the District is experiencing some water resource impacts as a result of lack of rainfall over the last year. The average rainfall deficit is 11.6 inches. At the start of January, abnormally low groundwater conditions existed in portions of 15 of the 16 counties within the District.

The following is a summary of the restrictions.


  • If your city or county already has a once-per-week schedule in effect, your watering day will remain the same.
  • If you were previously allowed to follow a twice-per-week schedule, you now need to follow the schedule shown.
  • Unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect, properties under two acres in size may only water before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect, properties two acres or larger may only water before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
  • Variances are available if a property proposes an alternative irrigation plan (such as splitting a large property into two pieces and assigning a different day to each piece).
  • Hand watering or micro-irrigation of nonlawn landscape is allowed.
  • Certain exemptions are available, such as allowances for new plant material.

Additional restrictions are in place for golf courses, agricultural operations and other water users.

Additional requirements are in place for local governments and utilities.

For complete details or to ask questions about these restrictions, visit the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org or call 1-800-848-0499 or 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4498, during normal business hours.