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Water managers urge Southwest Florida residents to follow city and county water conservation guidelines this winter

Courtesy photo
A leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons of water a day, one drip at a time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast the next few months will be both warmer than average and drier than average in Florida. Since the state’s winter months are typically dry, the combination has Southwest Florida water managers asking people to conserve water.

Washing clothes, hosing down the car, and topping off the pool use plenty of water and should be curtailed when possible, according to officials with the South Florida Water Management District. However, irrigating lawns and shrubs typically adds up to be at least 50 percent of a household’s annual water use. Conserving water at home can help keep wells from running dry, save money, and reduce the stress on the Floridan aquifer.

We "encourage all residents to conserve water this dry season to protect our freshwater resources," said Sean Cooley, a SFWMD spokesman. "Lawn irrigation should follow guidance set by your city or county."

"We'll continue closely monitoring conditions in the underground aquifers."

Every town and county in Southwest Florida has lawn watering rules, some more restrictive than others.

Sarasota County residents are restricted to once-a-week lawn watering, and when allowed it must done outside the hours of 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to minimize evaporation. People living at addresses ending in even numbers can water on Tuesdays, and those with addresses that end with an odd number can water Thursdays.

In Charlotte County, those living at even numbered addresses may water on Thursdays and Sundays, and odd numbered addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Like other counties in the region, watering is not allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Locations without a discernable address, such as rights-of-way and common areas inside a subdivision, may water on Tuesdays and Fridays with the same time restrictions. In Charlotte County, hand watering and micro-irrigation of plants other than lawns may be done on any day and at any time.

Lee County water managers are asking that city residents abide by local ordinances that restrict lawn watering. County residents who do not live in a municipality can irrigate their lawns before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Addresses that end in an even number can water on Thursdays and Sundays. Addresses that end in an odd number, and rights-of-way or other locations without an address, can irrigate only on Wednesday and/or Saturday. The rules apply even to residents who use reclaimed water.

Collier County residents may water up to three days a week. Odd numbered addresses can water Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while even numbered addresses can water Tuesday, Thursday and Sundays. Water managers urge, however, that people only water their lawns when needed, not just because it is allowed.

Those living within the borders of cities and town within Southwest Florida’s counties may have different watering schedules and, with the exception of Sarasota County, those days and times can be found online at www.sfwmd.gov/mywateringdays. Those living in the cities of Sarasota, Venice and North Port, and the Town of Longboat Key can find out when they are allowed to water their lawns by calling their public works departments.

To save water, in addition to managing how much is used to irrigate lawns and shrubs, the SFWMD recommends residents fix leaky toilets, faucets or irrigation systems as soon as possible since a leak can waste 100 gallons of water in a day. Replace your shower head with a low-flow version that uses two gallons of water per minute since older shower heads can use up to five gallons of water per minute. And operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when full.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, accelerating change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.