Monday, December 8, 2008

Drought update

The Southwest Florida Water Management District reports that three years of below-average rainfall has left the Tampa Bay area currently facing an extreme water shortage this dry season. For the last 36 months, the Districtwide rainfall deficit is more than 25 inches and the Governing Board recently tightened the one-day-per-week watering restrictions in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties to conserve the region's dwindling water supplies.
The District is asking everyone to make a special effort to conserve water this winter to help us through this emergency.

Tampa Bay Specifics:
  • The Tampa Bay area is the most impacted region in the District.
  • The Governing Board voted on October 28 to tighten the one-day-per-week water restrictions for all of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties until June 30, 2009, moving from a "severe" to an "extreme" status.
  • The Governing Board enacted these additional measures at the request of Tampa Bay Water, the region's wholesale water supplier. Tampa Bay Water requested the District's assistance because its water supplies have not returned to pre-drought conditions.
  • The Hillsborough River reservoir, the main water supply for the city of Tampa, is near historic record lows for this time of year. The Alafia River is so low that it is no longer able to provide water to meet public supply needs.
  • Tampa Bay Water can only store six billion gallons of water in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which is about 40 percent of its capacity, until the cracks in the reservoir's soil-cement layer are addressed.
  • The reservoir currently has about 4.5 billion gallons in storage and Tampa Bay Water estimates that if the region does not receive above average rainfall January through March, the reservoir will be depleted by April 2009.
  • If we don't reduce the amount of water we use, increased withdrawals will result in further impacts to our lakes, wetlands, streams and estuaries.
  • The District is requiring water utilities and other local enforcement officials to increase their education and enforcement efforts, including requirements to respond to citizen complaints and issue citations without having first issued a warning.
Additional restrictions include:
  • Restricting the time for hand-watering or micro-irrigation for non-lawn landscaping to before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Postponing turfgrass renovation, such as replacing lawns, and taking other appropriate steps to avoid an increase in lawn or landscape water use
  • Reducing the 60-day allowance for new plant establishment
  • Reducing the time aesthetic fountains and waterfalls may operate from eight hours to four hours per day
  • The District's Speakers Bureau is available to speak to community groups, homeowners associations, churches, civic organizations, etc. on the seriousness of the situation and what they can do to conserve water.
If you are a member of an organization or have contact information for an organization that would be interested in a speaker, please email with the District's Speakers Bureau. Or, if your organization has a newsletter, please email and we will provide them with content.
The Tampa Bay region is facing a serious water shortage and we appreciate all your efforts to conserve water and spread the word. If we all work together, we can make a difference.

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