By Tamas Mondovics
The 2017 hurricane season officially began on June 1, and as hoped brought some much needed rain to ease and give some relief to bay area residents.
Unfortunately, even the increase of rainy days are but a drop in a bucket for the region, not enough to make up for months of less-than-normal amounts.
Coupled with dozens of brush fires that scorched communities statewide, local officials issued tighter water restrictions, in June, including limiting lawn watering to once a week.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) has declared a Modified Phase III Water Shortage for several counties, including Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas, effective until at least Tuesday, Aug. 1.
The tighter restrictions apply to all residents and most water sources including private wells and ponds or lakes that are used as alternate irrigation supplies.
While reclaimed water customers are exempt from the water restrictions they are asked to avoid using the resource excessively or unnecessarily.
• Hand-watering: residents may hand-water plants and shrubs, or use a micro-irrigation system in landscaping beds at any time.
• New sod and landscaping: Days 1-30, water any day. Days 31-60, water approximately every other day (even-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; odd-numbered addresses on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday).
• Vehicle washing: individuals may wash vehicles once a week, on the designated watering day for the address.
• Pressure washing: allowed once a year or to address a health or safety hazard, or to comply with health laws.
• Fountains and other aesthetic water features: may only operate eight hours per day.
• HOAs must suspend any requirement to replace lawns, pressure wash, or engage in other activity which increases water use.
In unincorporated Hillsborough County, violating the restrictions could mean a fine of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, leading up to $500 for the fifth and succeeding violations.
The new schedule for watering established lawns and landscaping throughout Hillsborough County, including the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace, is:
• Addresses ending in 0 or 1 – Mondays
• Addresses ending in 2 or 3 – Tuesdays
• Addresses ending in 4 or 5 – Wednesdays
• Addresses ending in 6 or 7 – Thursdays
• Addresses ending in 8 or 9, locations with no address, and locations with mixed addresses (such as office complexes and shopping centers) – Fridays
County officials said that all watering must be done before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.