Residents can still hand water non-lawn areas any day, but only before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Blame it on the weather. Phase III water restrictions begin March 13 in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted Feb. 26 to impose the stricter restrictions due to reduced river levels and water supply concerns. Officials say although December rainfall totals were near normal, rainfall in January and February fell short by about 3.5 inches.
A need to curtail water use also can be attributed to renovations ongoing at Tampa Bay Water’s C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. Due to that work, more water is being drawn from regional wellfields and Tampa Bay Water’s desalination plant.
Jerry Seeber, general manager for Tampa Bay Water, spoke to Pinellas County Commissioners Feb. 26. He said renovations at the reservoir should be complete by late summer or early fall 2014.
Tampa Bay Water is the wholesale water supplier for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county water utilities as well as the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey.
Phase III restrictions apply to lawn watering, car washing and fountain use. The water schedule for lawn and landscape watering is restricted to one-time per week on a specified day based on address. Watering must be done before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas still are allowed any day, but only before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. unless otherwise specified by a stricter local ordinance.
Car washing is limited to once per week, and fountain operation will be limited to four hours per day. These restrictions apply to well, pond and canal water sources in addition to city or county water supplies.
There are no changes to Phase I restrictions for other water uses, including agricultural irrigation, golf course operations, industrial processes, or pressure washing activities.
Bob Powell, director of Pinellas County Water and Sewer, said residents should be aware that after March 13, inspectors who observe a water violation would not be allowed to give warnings per Swiftmud rules.
“They must give a citation right away,” he said. “I know we’ve had some customer concern over that practice, but we have no option. It is a Swiftmud order.”
After complaints last year from residents who said they received no notice before water restrictions took affect and were upset when they received citations without warnings, the county implemented email notifications.
Utilities customers now can add their email address to their My eAccount service and receive notice of water shortage conditions, as well as notices of changes in water restrictions and water schedules. Visit www.pinellascounty/utilities and click on the My eAccount button, or call customer service at 464-4000.
“For the last several months, we’ve watched the conditions decline, Swiftmud Chairman Paul Senft said. “If we do not receive significant rainfall in the coming months, we may have to extend these restrictions into other areas of the District. We ask residents to be conservative with their water use, especially outdoor irrigation.”