While the recent heat wave kept the mercury hovering around 100 degrees from Virginia to New Hampshire, Tampa Bay area residents have been enjoying some cooler weather and plenty of rain, culminating in Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (Swiftmud) governing board’s vote to ease the restrictions on lawn-watering.
Beginning in July, Hillsborough County residents were once again allowed to water their lawns two days a week.
“It’s the first time in more than three years that twice-weekly watering will be allowed,” said Hillsborough County Water Resource Services Community Relations Coordinator, Michelle Van Dyke.
The district declared a water shortage in January of 2007. Seven counties were subject to additional phase III restrictions in 2008 and 2009, followed by the most aggressive, phase IV restrictions, in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
Van Dyke explained that easing the restrictions was in response to significant improvements in the levels of the aquifer, rivers and public water storage supplies, but cautioned of some additional changes involving irrigation timers and settings.
“If you live in unincorporated Hillsborough County, you must erase all irrigation timer settings and throw away any reminders with the old two-day-a-week schedule,” she said. “The new schedule is different and also departs from the general schedule listed on Swiftmud’s Website.”
Hillsborough County residents are once again allowed to water their lawns two days a week.

The restrictions apply to all residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County – not just Water Resource Services customers – and most water sources, which include private wells, and ponds or lakes that are used as alternate irrigation supplies. All watering must be done before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
According to Van Dyke, dividing the schedule over six days will also reduce the heavy demand on the county’s water treatment plants during peak times. 
Residents may water plants and shrubs by hand, or use a drip irrigation system in landscaping beds at any time. There are also special rules for watering new sod and plantings.
While there are no restrictions on fountains, car washing and pressure washing, these customers are encouraged to use only what they need. Reclaimed water customers are exempt from the watering restrictions.
For complete information on the twice-weekly schedule, rules for watering new sod and plantings and other restrictions, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/water, call 275-7094 or call the Water Conservation Team at 272-5977, ext. 43991, during regular business hours.

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