By LOIS KINDLE
Since Jan. 1, it’s been unusually dry in the Tampa Bay area, which of course includes southern Hillsborough County. For the first four months of the year and starting into May, we’ve only had 4.4 inches of rain, when we normally would have had 10.93.
Although it may be tempting to rescue parched lawns right now, given the heat and lack of rain, Hillsborough County officials are reporting drought conditions and reminding residents they need to strictly observe their watering days and hours to conserve water and avoid warnings and fines of up to $500.
Hillsborough County Code Enforcement officers will be routinely patrolling neighborhoods to ensure residents are complying with their assigned schedules. Violations can be reported by calling 813-224-8993.
All water users in unincorporated Hillsborough County are subject to year-round lawn watering restrictions. Because lawn watering drives peak water demand, the restrictions are necessary to help balance demand and prevent low water pressure.”
“Everyone needs to do their part in terms of conserving the water we all use,” said David Glicksberg, manager of the Sustainable Water Resources section of the Hillsborough County Environmental Services Division. “It’s a finite resource, and we want to make sure we keep it for generations to come.”
Here’s the county’s year-round watering schedule:
Allowable watering days and hours for most water sources, uses and methods are limited to twice per week, as follows:
Street addresses ending in 0, 1, 2 or 3 have Mondays and/or Thursdays as watering days.
Street addresses ending in 4, 5 or 6 can water Tuesdays and/or Fridays.
Street addresses ending in 7, 8 or 9 have Wednesdays and/or Saturdays to water.
Common areas with or without addresses, locations with no address and locations with mixed addresses, including office complexes and shopping centers may water on Wednesdays and/or Saturdays.
There is no watering allowed on Sundays.
Watering may occur in only one of the two designated watering periods on allowable days – between midnight and 8 a.m. or 6 p.m. and midnight.
Residents and businesses using reclaimed water may water on any day of the week, either before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., but the watering must not be wasteful or unnecessary.
To find additional rules on hand watering, watering of new sod and landscaping, car washing, pressure washing and using reclaimed water for irrigation, visit https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/property-owners-and-renters/water-and-sewer/find-my-watering-days/.
Another way to conserve water is to make sure all your sprinklers are working properly.
The UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County offers free on-site and by-telephone irrigation evaluations for high water users irrigating with metered water. The evaluations are offered to help people ensure their irrigation systems are set up and functioning properly.
Extension staff can take a look at rain or moisture sensors, components of your irrigation system, the settings on your controller and perform a “wet walk” of your property to identify broken heads and misdirected sprays that waste water.
To schedule an evaluation, contact Paula Staples at 813-744-5519, Ext. 54142 or email StaplesP@HCFLGov.net/.
You can also learn about the water conservation benefits of following Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles from the extension service.
Another way to conserve water
The Tampa Bay Water Wise Program offers a variety of water conservation rebates for homeowners and business owners who purchase and install updated plumbing fixtures, irrigation devices, food service equipment and more. For example, low flush toilets use 1.28 gallons or less per flush. Older toilets use anywhere between 1.6 and 3.5. Visit www.tampabaywaterwise.org/.