Is your landscape both eye-catching and water-efficient? If so, now is the time to enter the 2018 Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards and you could win a custom-made, mosaic landscape stepping stone, recognition by local elected officials and neighborhood bragging rights.

In partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) County Extension Offices and Florida Friendly Landscaping Program, Tampa Bay Water is looking for residents, businesses and community organizations who are committed to conserving water resources and protecting the environment by using attractive, water efficient landscaping.

The water-wise awards are designed to benefit the region and protect the environment by encouraging residents use less water by creating landscaping that has minimal maintenance as well as efficient irrigation techniques.

“Native and Florida-friendly plants that are properly placed are able to thrive in local conditions that are typically drought tolerant, while reducing the amount of grass in the landscape saves both water and maintenance time,” said Marq Caughell, public affairs coordinator with Tampa Bay Water. “Water-Wise landscapes also protect the environment by minimizing fertilizer and pesticide use and by reducing stormwater runoff.”

The selection process consists of two elements: an online application and an on-site evaluation. All entries will be reviewed by representatives of the University of Florida IFAS County Extension, who will then schedule on-site evaluations for all entries that meet the core criteria. The online application takes between five and 10 minutes to complete and requires a photograph.

“The Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards program is a way to engage with the community and encourage more residents and organizations to make efficient use of our water resources and protect our drinking water sources from pollution,” said Dave Bracciano, demand management coordinator for Tampa Bay Water.

Tampa Bay water is the largest wholesale water supplier in Florida.

For more information on how to apply, visit Applications are due by June 30. For more information, visit

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.