The Southwest Florida Water Management District lifted the tight, once-a-week watering restrictions this week, allowing residents of Citrus and Hernando counties and some cities in Pinellas County to water twice a week. Supporters of this new policy claim that the above-average rain and current restrictions allowed the water levels to rise to the pre-drought levels that existed before October 1999.
However, a quick return to more watering will only cause the water levels to drop again, especially since the dry season is approaching. Many residents in the counties mentioned above have not and do not abide by the strict laws currently. Police in Hernando County issue warnings and $50-$100 fines for watering on the wrong days, but this still does not prevent residents from watering more than once a week.
A member of Swiftmud’s board who opposed the change in the restriction, Janet Kovach, said that most of the district’s lakes and wetlands are still below average, yet residents’ yards are still green. Kovach’s comment about the below-average level of the lakes and wetlands is an understatement, as some of the lakes no longer exist.
Concern for the look of lawns and pools appears greater than that of necessities such as woodlands, wetlands and other uses of water such as showering. Residents should be thankful they do not have to restrict showering to once a week or use of one gallon of water per shower. It happened in other areas under drought, such as California. The next season will leave most lawns dry, brown and dormant until late February or early March at best.
Why should more watering in the dry season, when yards are going to die anyway, be permitted? The restrictions should be kept in place until the water levels are high enough for lakes to reform and wetlands to reappear. Putting off the allowance of excessive watering now will help to ensure a healthy water supply in years to come.