Severe water shortage in 6 Florida counties : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday, January 11, 2001 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Water management board declares severe shortage

By DINAH VOYLES PULVER ( Environment Writer Regional water managers declared a severe water shortage Wednesday in Volusia County and five other Central Florida counties.

Homes and businesses in Volusia, Orange, Seminole, Lake, Marion and Polk counties are being implored to reduce water use "to the greatest extent possible" because of exceptional drought conditions.

Lake and stream levels are at all-time lows after three years of below normal rainfall. Rainfall in DeLand, for example, was more than 15.32 inches below normal for the last year and Daytona Beach rainfall was nearly 8 inches below normal. Monitoring wells for the state's underground water resources also continue to set new record lows.

After hearing such details on the drought's seriousness and learning that the below normal rainfall may continue at least through April, the St. Johns River Water Management District board unanimously approved a water shortage order.

The order sets voluntary and mandatory water use restrictions.

Although the drought is part of Florida's normal long-term climate cycle, the restrictions are needed to avoid further negative impacts, district officials said.

"By reducing water consumption, we hope to avoid problems with dry wells, degraded water quality and the formation of sink holes," said Chairman Bill Kerr.

The order sets tighter mandatory watering rules and asks for a number of voluntary measures. However, the new rules won't mean as much change for Volusia County residents as in the other five counties. Volusia homes and businesses will remain under even tighter rules imposed by the County Council in 1998.

But, all water utilities in the six counties are being asked to reduce their customers' total monthly water use by 15 percent compared to the same month in the preceding year. This likely will be done through educational programs and possibly slight water pressure reductions.

The order also prohibits aesthetic use of water in non-recirculating fountains. It prohibits the draining of "water-based recreation facilities" water slides, pools, and the like - into gutters or onto impervious surfaces such as pavement.

Flagler County is not included in the new order because water supply issues are not as critical there, water managers said.

The district is asking every local government and any agency with law enforcement capabilities to help with implementation and enforcement of the order. The district is working with the local governments to set penalties of up to $1,000 for anyone who violates the water rules after receiving an official warning.

The district will monitor what the new restrictions do to water use.

"This is basically an appeal to every citizen to try to do the right thing," said Hal Wilkening, the district's director of resource management. "If this doesn't work, we may have to go to more restrictive hours."

The order takes effect Monday and will remain until consistent rainfall eases the drought.

Basically the new rule limits all landscape irrigation to two days a week, with odd numbered addresses allowed to water only on Wednesday and Saturday and even numbered addresses on Thursday and Sunday. The irrigation is only allowed between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. and no watering is allowed on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

Volusia's rule allows watering on the assigned days only between the hours of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for automatic and manual irrigation systems. Manual irrigation systems also can be used between the hours of 4 to 8 p.m. on their assigned days of the week.

Don Feaster, executive director of the Volusian Water Alliance, unsuccessfully lobbied the board to adopt Volusia's more limited hours.

"We've had that rule for years," Feaster said. "It's something we should be doing all the time as conservation and not just during a water shortage."

Volusia's per capita use is among the lowest in the district, he said.

However, public utilities in the other counties had lobbied against anything less than the new hours. The utilities said it would strain their systems to have all the water use concentrated into such a small time frame.

Board member Reid Hughes failed to win support for tighter restrictions or a moratorium on issuing new permits for non-essential uses. District staff advised the board to wait and see what the new rule accomplishes.

"This is a relatively mild and non-restrictive ordinance," Hughes said. Hughes compared the ordinance to fighting a war with BB-guns.

Board chairman Bill Kerr countered. "On the other hand, you don't use a Howitzer to kill a housefly."

Meanwhile, Volusia water regulators are considering even greater restrictions. The South Florida Water Management District, which includes Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, also is expected to announce more severe restrictions this week.

Local rules The St. Johns River Water Management's order to further restrict watering does not affect Flagler County. However, district rules that prohibit watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. still apply in Flagler County.

In Volusia County, the County Council got tough in 1998 and went beyond the district's restrictions, limiting watering to just two days a week. At odd-numbered addresses, watering is only allowed Wednesday and Saturday; at even-numbered addresses or no number, Thursday and Sunday. Watering hours are 4 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.; however, those with automatic sprinklers are limited to the morning hours only.

Watering restrictions for Volusia and Flagler counties are published daily on The News-Journal's weather page.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 11, 2001


The SouthEastern part of FLA is already in shallow kimchee. South west counties are just about sucking dirt.

I posted this on my community webpage. We are having serious drought conditions.  Which will remain in effect until next Fall !!
S. FLA Water Mangement District issues Lawn Watering Restrictions are now in place.  see the .pdf file

-- (, January 11, 2001.

Published Thursday, January 11, 2001, in the Miami Herald

Tougher water cutbacks likely for South Florida Drought may bring reduced pressure BY CURTIS MORGAN AND ADRIENNE SAMUELS

Browner lawns, dirtier cars, slower-flushing toilets -- get used to them, South Florida.

With the drought continuing, Lake Okeechobee dropping and the region remaining too thirsty despite water use restrictions, water managers are expected to twist the spigot still tighter from Palm Beach County to the Florida Keys during a meeting today.

The biggest steps -- cutting lawn watering from three to just two days a week and reducing household water pressure by a quarter -- would be unprecedented in some areas, including Miami-Dade County.

``Chances are we're going in that direction,'' Bruce Adams, water conservation officer for the South Florida Water Management District, said Wednesday.

In September, the district's board urged voluntary cutbacks in the 16- county region, then in December kicked in the first mandatory restrictions with the aim of cutting use by at least 15 percent.

That helped -- but not enough. Now, the district board will consider stepped-up standards that are aimed to curb use by as much as 30 percent, Adams said.

The district is still compiling how much the 100 or so individual utilities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach have reduced use but is particularly targeting suburban areas for the highest cutbacks because lawns drink up so much of the supply.

``We wouldn't expect to get 15 percent from Pahokee or Belle Glade and places like that but Boca Raton, yes,'' Adams said.

During the last major drought from 1989 to 1991, southeast and northeast Broward as well as northeast Palm Beach County were put on phase two restrictions but if the board approves, it would be a first for Miami-Dade.

Broward is particularly troubled by droughts because much of its coastal groundwater sources have been affected by salt-water intrusion, Adams said. Unlike Miami-Dade, which has coastal water control structures, Broward has its canals open to the sea.

If the new restrictions are passed, Adams said, they would probably go into effect on Jan. 17 for lower East Coast cities and Jan. 19 for those around Lake Okeechobee.

Besides cutting a day off lawn watering and car washing, the most noticeable effect for most residents will be reduced water pressure.

``What we've primarily done is reduce water pressure at the pump. When you turn your tap on, it takes you longer to fill your bathtub,'' said Mike Scottie, director of the Environmental Operations Division for Broward County. ``You take a five-minute shower and use less water than before.''

It does not mean that water will be reduced to a trickle from faucets and in some communities, the difference may be hard to notice. The cut from a typical 60 pounds per square inch to 45 psi also will still meet the minimum of state fire and health standards, Adams said.

What might be most affected are high-rise buildings, already with slow water flow. The reduced coverage might leave lawns with what Adams called ``green circles'' but he also pointed out that during the winter most lawns are dormant and only need watering once every week or 10 days.

Police and code enforcers in Miami-Dade and Broward were also planning on stepping up the watchdogging.

``What we're doing is educating people as to the particulars of the restrictions,'' said John Earle, director of code compliance for Pembroke Pines. ``When we see somebody in violation or receive a complaint from somebody alerting us to the fact, we'll go out and give them a copy of the restrictions and give them some guidelines.''

Sean McCrackine, spokesman for Miami-Dade's Department of Environmental Resources Management, said his agency's 150 field inspectors were also going to be looking for water violators -- mainly to educate them.

``We're finding most of the people just don't know the restrictions are in place, believe it or not.''

The drought, the worst since 1961, doesn't look to break any time soon. Adams said long-term projections from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center show rainfall improving across much of the county but a ``big red band,'' meaning more dryness, across much of Florida.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 11, 2001.


-- MSTERRI26 (MSTERRI26@AOL.COM), January 12, 2001.

Sorry, I don't see the corollary between the Presidential vote in Florida and a water shortage in Florida. One proposition doesn't follow another and the inference in the conclusion that President Elect Bush will mangle the country cannot be referenced to either propositions. Invalid logic.

-- Phil Maley (, January 12, 2001.

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