FL-se: Water restrictions tightened even more, Phase 3

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Fair Use Act Quotation, for research purposes only

Randy Smith (561) 682-6197
SFWMD Office of Communications


Public meeting set for March 21;
Board to approve implementation plan March 27

Shrinking regional water storage supplies and inadequate reductions in public consumption prompted the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board to authorize staff to move toward more severe water use cutbacks for portions of the Lower East Coast (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties) and portions of the Lake Okeechobee Service Area (Lee County, Hendry and Okeechobee counties). The Governing Board vote was 7-2, with Trudi Williams and Hugh English voting against the motion.

The Board action directs staff to develop a detailed implementation plan to achieve Phase 3 level cutbacks (35-45% reductions) in water use. A public meeting is scheduled for March 21 to seek input from residents, businesses and utilities on operational and economic impacts. The details and specific locations of the tougher restrictions must be considered and approved by the Board on March 27. The new restrictions will be effective March 28.

In addition, the District is stepping up its own compliance and enforcement efforts ­ targeting large water users with aerial and on-site inspections, and issuing fines for documented violations. Also, the agency is launching a hard-hitting public information campaign to heighten awareness and to remind residents and businesses that "Wasting Water is a Crime."

"This is the worst drought in Floridašs history. South Floridašs primary storage areas ­ Lake Okeechobee and the Water Conservation Areas ­ continue to fall at alarming rates," said SFWMD executive director Frank Finch. "To date, water use trends have not reflected the level of cutbacks we need to help get us through this emergency situation."

The District is looking for substantial cutbacks in water demand to help stretch dwindling water supplies.

For a typical homeowner, Phase 3 level restrictions limit lawn watering and car washing to one day per week. Based on input from Governing Board members and utility representatives, the specific days have yet to be determined. The restrictions apply to water supplied from utilities, as well as water taken from individual wells and canals, lakes or other surface water sources.

Phase 3 level restrictions also call for significant cutbacks by businesses such as golf courses, car washes and nursery/agricultural operations.

More information regarding the water shortage and water use restrictions is available 24 hours-a-day on the Districtšs web site at www.sfwmd.gov. Citizens may also contact the SFWMD water shortage hotline at 1-800-662-8876. The special phone line is operational Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Reports of water use violations should be reported directly to the local law enforcement/code enforcement unit within the county or city municipality where the violation occurs. Click here for a list of water shortage enforement contacts.

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), March 16, 2001


Fair use for educational/research purposes only

Published Friday, March 16, 2001, in the Miami Herald

Restrictions on water use to be tightened

S. Florida district says existing limits failing, cuts sprinkling to once a week BY BRAD BENNETT bbennett@herald.com

SEE ALSO NO PLACE TO GO: A 50-foot boat sits grounded on the dried-up bank of the Okeechobee Waterway near Indiantown, Fla., Thursday.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Complete list of water restrictions

Water management officials on Thursday agreed to tighten the spigot even further in the face of a severe drought that has reduced South Florida water supplies to perilously low levels.

Starting March 28, homeowners will be able to water their lawns only once a week instead of the current twice a week. Shopping centers and subdivisions will have to shut off their decorative fountains.

Golf courses, plant nurseries and carwashes also will face new curbs, with details to be announced soon.

Critics say the switch from Phase II to Phase III restrictions may destroy suburban lawns, hurt crops, damage businesses and cost jobs. But officials with the South Florida Water Management District say they have no choice: They must move quickly to preserve nature's most precious resource.

``This is the worst drought in Florida's history,'' said Frank Finch, executive director of the water management district.

Overall, the water management district, which encompasses 16 counties stretching from near Orlando to the Florida Keys, has cut back only about 10 percent of urban use, well short of the 20 percent to 30 percent target of the current restrictions.

Broward County is down about 13 percent, Palm Beach County about 10 percent and Miami-Dade County only 6 percent, according to the district.

``It doesn't appear that we're getting the job done,'' water management board member Mike Collins said. ``I just don't think people are taking it seriously enough.''


The newest restrictions -- aimed at cutting public use by 35 percent to 45 percent -- affect just Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, along with portions of the area surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

Under current restrictions, most homeowners can water lawns for four hours twice a week. The new restrictions allow once-a-week sprinkling for three hours -- days to be announced.

Homeowners said the restrictions will create a further strain on their lawns. However, landscape watering accounts for half the district's urban water use.

``I'm worried because of the dry patches and all of the dead leaves and twigs,'' said Charlene Antonacci of Cooper City, who was working on her lawn Thursday afternoon. ``I feel it might be a fire hazard.''

Laura Tooley, director of horticulture at Flamingo Gardens, a botanical garden and wildlife sanctuary in Davie, said the tighter restrictions are likely to make her job more difficult.

``Realistically, I have 65 acres -- it's all manual irrigation,'' Tooley said. ``Being an attraction, visitors expect our gardens to look fresh and green and lush.''


Randy King of King's Foliage in Homestead agreed.

``A lot of nurseries grow crops that are very sensitive and will tend to wilt in the hot part of the day,'' King said. ``They'll be fine if we can recharge them at night with the watering, but it could be very difficult to maintain certain crops [like hibiscus] with these restrictions.''

While water officials talked of reducing water pressure beyond the current 25 percent, public safety officials successfully argued that could threaten fire safety and endanger people in hospitals.

Residents, business owners and utilities will have a chance to give their input on the tougher restrictions during a March 21 meeting with water management staff.

On March 27, the water management board will make any subsequent changes and finalize the new restrictions, which will go into effect the next day. Water management officials also may extend the restrictions further north.


Some homeowners and business owners argued that the water management district is punishing them for its own mistake in lowering the water level of Lake Okeechobee last year. The district did so after 95 percent of the lake's underwater grass beds disappeared after unusually high water washed them away.

The draining project left water levels in the lake just under 12 feet above sea level, about four feet below what they had been.

Now, record-low rainfall has left the lake's water level so low that pumps must be installed to carry water to Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, said Ken Ammon, director of the district's water supply division.

``You should not be dumping all of that water out of the lake,'' Joette Lorion of Kendall told the board.

``You knew there was a 27 percent chance of a water shortage. That's a one-in-three chance. Let's put the blame where the blame belongs,'' Lorion said.

But board member Gerardo B. Fernandez, who represents Miami-Dade, disagreed.

``I would do the same thing over again,'' Fernandez said of the lake draining.

Fernandez was among seven board members who approved the new restrictions, with board members Trudi Williams and Hugh English voting against them.


AnEta Sewell, director of communications for the district, said the district has begun a public education campaign in schools and on TV and radio.

Board members urged cities and their police departments to hand out tickets for water-use violations, rather than simply issuing warnings.

The district also is stepping up enforcement efforts by targeting large water users with aerial and on-site inspections and issuing fines.

Herald staff writers Jerry Berrios, Erika Bolstad and Elaine de Valle contributed to this report.

http://cgi.herald.com/cgi-bin/rc_emailfriend.cgi? mode=print&doc=http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/local/dade/dig docs/086054.htm

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 16, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ